The story of Freckles, written and directed by Denise Papas Meechan, opens with Lizzie introducing herself by voicing her strong hatred she has for the “ugly orange dots” that she refers to as her “star map to loneliness”. This is a story of a woman who has a disturbingly distorted view of herself. Despite her mother telling her that the freckles are “kisses from God”, Lizzie sees them as a curse. According to Lizzie’s logic, she believes that everything that’s wrong with her life is due to her freckled face. Lizzie is portrayed by Jenn Halweil, who gives a spot-on performance.
When we see Lizzie in public, she wraps herself up in a pink hooded sweatshirt where she tries to hide behind her hood and hair as she briskly walks down the city streets, not wanting to be seen. Her insecurity shows through in the way she carries herself and her expressions as she glances at people passing her by. In her perception, she is even sneered at on the street by strangers because of her freckles.
When she gets into work, her co-worker (Jane Dashow) is an annoying over-sharer who can’t help gushing the explicit details of her successful hook up from an online dating site. Lizzie says nothing while her co-worker blabs on and on. Later on her walk home as she stands behind a tree and sees a guy she likes, Brody (Antonio E. Silva), who waves her over to him, she doesn’t speak to him, either. He asks her for a ride into town so he can get parts for his bike and she nods yes but yet doesn’t speak. The awkwardness is palpable, and gets increasingly worse.
On another day, her co-worker again rambles on but Lizzie’s snapping point is just around the corner and she is starting to lose control of her emotions. Later, on her walk home, a message painted on a wall hits her hard, and when she sees Brody, who she is supposed to give a ride into town to, she discovers the real reason he’s not into her. It has nothing to do with her freckles, and Lizzie completely snaps.
The story of Freckles is fascinating from a psychological point of view. What’s scary about it is that this film speaks volumes to the detriment that our societal standards for beauty inflict upon young women. There’s a lot to consider about the human psyche here and the long term effects of being overexposed to a superficial society’s standards. Self-esteem issues can lead to self-loathing. Take this to the extreme and you’ve got dangerous people running around hurting one another to try to feel better. Stories like this Freckles are important and need to be told because then we know what we need to change as a society.
Freckles, frizzy hair, acne, body fat – we all have something about ourselves that we don’t like and wish we could change. Some things we can change, others we have to accept and make peace with. As a final note in the film, Lizzie credits her freckles as the place her demons hide – in plain sight.
If you get the chance to see this film, I think you should. It might make you uncomfortable, but that’s okay. I think that’s part of the point.
Where do your demons hide?