“Your life line – It stops, suddenly, and then it starts all over again. And then it goes on almost forever.”– Madame Olga (She Freak)
I watch in wonder at the woman on the screen, dressed in 60s magic, scared to learn why she will fail, ready to prove to myself that somehow, I won’t end up the same by the time the credits roll.
I’ve been flipping cards lately. Pulling small fortunes off a stack and reading a vision for the day. Setting the new year with more direction, or at the very least, a practice in ritual and repetition. That alone might get me somewhere.
Truth is, a card is just a card, and it means nothing, just like everything else. But we still ask ourselves if there is meaning in life just as we ask ourselves if there is meaning in the marks on our palms, in the patterns of our dreams, or in the cards we pull. The wonderful and terrifying thing about the question of fate is that there will never be a real answer.
I love a cautionary tale. Especially one that really hits home. The best stories are the ones that provide lessons with which we as the audience must learn because it is far too late for the characters themselves to do so. They don’t see the signs like we can. The stories that linger with us the longest are the ones that reveal our deepest fears.
She Freak from 1967 is the kind of film that lingers. It stays and it seeps into the worst places inside you that you know you’re capable of becoming.
I know what it feels like to see the sun go down horizontally across empty farmland again and again and feel like you’ve fucking missed it all. The world was somewhere else while you drove around town trying to figure out how you could possibly become who you want to be if you stayed there. We don’t deserve a single thing in this world, but at least we can choose not to settle. Jade is on that mission from the second we meet her in that shitty dirt diner, and I’m pulled in immediately by empathy.
I promised myself that things would change this year and all I know is that I have to want something bad enough in order to get it. That will always be true. Wearing a form fitting all-white diner-girl waitress shift dress with a matching white apron might be the exact outfit all of us should wear when we’ve fucking had enough.
The white is angelic, it’s pure. It’s the calm before the storm. Turning her back on the immediate past in an all-white palette is a beautiful visual. Saying goodbye to the life she had, heading straight towards what she wants, we all know things are going to get more colorful. And indeed, they do.
“I’m starting a whole new life, and I ain’t gonna remember the old one.”– Jade Cochran
When you’re risking it all to follow your dreams, it’s dangerous ground. Jade’s choice to wear a powder blue knee-length skirt is a confident decision and it’s not over the top. She’s comfortable, and therefore, so are we. If I was on my way to my dreams, I’d wear gold heels and a matching gold bag too. Hands down.
The fuchsia palette for Jade is a great flow. We see her in these pinks again and again, this striped shirt with the solid trim is a wonderful summery pairing with the skirt and shoes. It’s feminine, it’s classy, it’s wholesome and bright. It’s soothing in a way. It allows us to trust her, to root for her. The stripes are significant. They come up again, in a pivotal moment in the end and we accept the full-circle dynamic in styling choice. As always, I’m thankful to Lynn Halote for all of the costuming and wardrobe choices for this film.
The thick belt synched at the waist in a slightly darker shade is proof that she thought this outfit through before meeting the boss that fateful day at the carnival.
We quickly see her start to change. This disgusting shade of green, dare I say Jade-green, is only helping us see that her ambition is cutting too close to her ego.
She’s got hungry eyes and we all know what green represents. We realize that she’s willing to get it all at any cost.
Every second she gets closer to what she wants, we like her less. Not because we root for her to fail, but because she’s a conceited, self-centered bitch and no matter how you swing it, no one likes that kinda babe.
The blue skirt and belt from the beginning of her trajectory are back again, in a special moment Jade has when her palms get read by Madame Olga. This outfit is a beautiful warning paired with the scene and the reading she receives. The skirt and belt are put together with a green polka-dot blouse. It’s a message of the unraveling and the unspooling of Jade getting too close to the darkness of her own desire. She still doesn’t get it; That our dreams can end up being the very things that can turn us. And she’s well on her way.
A true shift is made in her arc when she reveals to stripper babe Pat that she’s engaged. She flashes her a smile and a wink, dressed in that fuchsia yet again, revealing that we can no longer root for her.
She’s dressed in pink when she’s cheating.
She’s dressed in pink when she’s taking money from her husband. Pink is a playful color, but the closer she gets to the end, the more urgency and uneasiness we feel when she’s in this bright shade. It elevates the tension every step of the way.
The only time we ever see her in all-black is in a soft and intimate moment that should make us feel good, but it doesn’t. The long black night gown is a spectacular way of showing us how dark she really is without having to say anything at all, especially when its shortly after the just married scene. It’s terrifying.
We see Jade in white for one final moment when she tells her husband how she feels about the “freaks” they work with in the carnival. She hates them. She wants nothing to do with them. She sees them as monsters. Having such a disgusting way of talking about people who are different, while dressed in white, is a lovely way at getting us to dislike her even more.
When things start to spiral, we get Jade in a satisfying new color that veers closely to her pinks. A bright red evening dress that she wears during the night her new husband is stabbed to death by her carni-lover.
It’s the fateful twist, the beginning of the end and she’s effortless in her pride. Smiling down at her husband as he dies while she looks stunning and horrid all at the same time. Remorseless in red.
The last time we see Jade right before the fortune told becomes the reality, she’s dressed in her signature pink, and we can’t wait to see her fall. And the worst fate of all is becoming what you hate the most.
In another fuchsia striped shirt, she learns the lesson all too late.
Maybe Jade didn’t deserve it, or she was too stupid to realize what was coming for her all along, or rather, she forever lives in the monster of her own making. Possibly, the road to getting what you want is the same one that leads you to what your most scared of becoming. It’s a slippery slope.
When you’re already burning too close to the fringe every second of the day, a fortune is pretty fucking meaningless. No amount of crystals, tarot cards, or life lines will help your brain feel well or make you better, or keep you away from the worst version of yourself.
Maybe the lesson is this; that a ticket to the top looks exactly the same as a plummet to the bottom.
I wonder if I’ve already been dealt my hand. The cards laid out, the fortune told, and now I just get to be the fool who dances near the edge, each minute thinking that I’ll be able to make life into something different. Something more. My palms are probably too sweaty to read these days but if my destiny is set, at least I’ll know that I didn’t become a fucking monster bitch while I was on my way down.
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