In 1985, Susan Seidelman blessed the planet with Desperately Seeking Susan, a screwball East Village fantasia about amnesia, Egyptian artifacts, mob killings, mistaken identities, jacuzzi sales, magic acts, suburban ennui, Nefertiti’s earrings, and an extremely rad jacket.
Leora Barish’s script had been lingering in development hell for years, with studios passing on it because, as producer Sarah Pillsbury put it in 2015, ‘When we circulated the script, only women and gay men liked it.’ Fortunately, Orion Pictures producer Barbara Boyle was one of those women; she picked up the film and hired Seidelman based on the singular, punk-rock style of her debut film, Smithereens. And it worked: The New York Times named Desperately Seeking Susan one of the ten best films of 1985, praising leads Rosanna Arquette and Madonna (called an ‘indolent, trampy goddess’ by Pauline Kael) for their kooky but grounded performances. Arquette eventually won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her role.” –Rachel Handler, Vulture
“In the very few moments [Madonna and Arquette] are together on screen, it’s like somebody got drunk on Champagne and remade Persona.” –Rachel Handler, Vulture
“This film immortalizes early-career Madonna, shot when she was on the cusp of fame but still something of a New York club kid.” –Isabella Trimboli, The Guardian
USA, 1985, 104 min, Digital, Dir. Susan Seidelman, Rated PG-13, Park Circus