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No. 53: Heathers

Fast Times at Westerberg High

Jody Rosen
December 06, 2011

1989, dir. Michael Lehmann. The high-school movie got a deliciously pitch-black overhaul in Michael Lehmann’s 1989 comedy, which spiced up the usual jocks-nerds-and-popular girls formula by tossing in murders, suicides, gay-football-player-murder-suicide-pacts, and Christian Slater’s eerily-perfect Jack Nicholson drawl. At the center is Winona Ryder (née Horowitz), in the role that made her an icon. It’s a classic morality play, a story of temptation, seduction, and redemption: Ryder’s Veronica Sawyer is a brainy brunette (read: Jewess) who succumbs to, and then turns against, the malevolent Heathers (i.e., shiksa goddesses) who rule Westerberg High.

Jody Rosen is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine.