Thelma and Louise. Romy and Michele. Cher and Dionne. Some of the most iconic female friendships have been developed for film. It’s a selfless devotion — a very specific sense of humor only your best friend would understand, which paints the silver screen in technicolor love. This unique relationship is visceral, pulsating on-screen, iconic actresses embodying some of the most realistic and empowering characters. The story of the female friendship is one of the most important stories a film can tackle.
Of course, Kadija and I never watched any of these movies together.
I met Kadija in “Film Noir Screenwriting.” She was popular, a senior with incredible makeup skills — thick, flawless cat eyes slipped across her eyelids — and eccentric fashion taste, donning go-go boots and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”-style windbreakers. She wasn’t just a confident, secure, stylish student, but she was already a success. Her scripts had won contests and awards. Her life as a screenwriter was already on track. It took everything in me to sit next to her in class. Flooded with nerves, I swallowed my fear and plopped down in the chair next to her. I smiled and introduced myself. She smiled back.
Our friendship is recorded in the movies we’ve watched together. As we got closer, the movies we watched became more reflective of who we actually were.
It started as films for class. We took long naps side by side through “The Big Sleep.” The frantic chaos of “Double Indemnity” fluttered across on the screen, seeping through the class projector in a foggy line of light as we discussed the drama of this year’s senior class in the corner of the room.
During our lesson about parodies and pastiches, Kadija and I mapped out for the class how “Shrek” was a textbook pastiche of every single canonical storyline, our explanation stretching across the whiteboard like yarn connecting suspects to a murder. We topped our argument off by claiming it was also a cinematic tour de force, our teacher shaking her head in despair.
When Kadija needed a ride home from school one day, she slid into the back of my orange Fiat 500e, and we puttered down the freeway. Arriving at my house, we plopped on the couch and watched “Fantastic Mr. Fox” as we waited for her mom to pick her up. Stuffing pastries into our mouths, we howled at the lines and decided on our spirit animals — I was Ash, she was Kylie. We agreed that Wes Anderson should make a permanent switch to claymation.
The summer before she started film school at USC, we spent our days eating food and watching movies and TV. With my brother and his best friend, we all went to Norms to eat diner chicken tenders and French fries. We came home and watched the entire third season of “BoJack Horseman,” cackling at the downward spiral of BoJack’s life and crying real tears at the episode when he goes underwater.
When I had the house to myself, Kadija came over and baked mac ‘n’ cheese and chocolate cake with me. We sat down with our food to watch “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” followed by “The Nice Guys,” screaming at each other when they were over, jealous of Shane Black’s unbeatable skill as a screenwriter. We were amazed by the friendship between Perry van Shrike, the gay private eye, and Harry, his protégé, repeating the funniest lines from the film. Dumbfounded, we read the scripts in anger, drooling over his unique voice and hilarious writing style.
Home for winter break, we met up and went to see “La La Land” at Century Stadium 25, the only theater where it was playing. Surrounded by the dark of the theater and the bursts of primary colors splashing from the screen, we delved deep into the beautiful dance numbers and pitchy vocals of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. When she came over to my house the next day, we learned “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme” on the piano.
We are both at different schools, pursuing similar careers but taking incredibly different paths to get there. While she writes scripts on a regular basis, I haven’t written one in months. She is submerged in the bustle of Los Angeles, the capital of the film industry, while I am reviewing films for my school’s newspaper. We are doing different things, separated by almost 400 miles.
Recently, Kadija trekked those 400 miles for a dance competition here in San Francisco. We went to Ghirardelli Square, got hot chocolate and walked down Fisherman’s Wharf. We caught up on relationships, school, careers. We brainstormed a pastiche of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” based in San Francisco under a blanket of night, laughing loudly and unfiltered because we were the only people outside. On the pier, we held hands and danced around the streetlights, whistling and singing “City of Stars.”
Maisy Menzies writes the Thursday arts & entertainment column on milestone moments experienced through art. Contact her at [email protected].