Esquire, April 1990
By Paul Attanasio
The outfit is not hers, nor is the glamour-puss lipstick, the coiffure, the pout, the attitude. Winona Ryder – not even the name is hers. They belong to a photographer, a press agent, you. Done up like a Barbie doll, this girl who only just put her Barbie away. You can see that she’s scared, lost in the who-am-I? a naif adrift in the treacherous waters.
A beauty like Catherine Deneuve’s makes you want to curate; a beauty like Winona’s makes you want to consume – to devour its innocence in a mad chase to recapture your own. How tempting to see in those doe eyes, in that fresh and perfect skin, the star of the slide, the chrysalis of corruption. She’s pure now, but give her time, till she’s had to endure a bad marriage, rehab, liposuction, a slot on Hollywood Squares (“Winona Ryder to block!”). Imagine her rasping to Arsenio in some distant late-night tomorrow about her latest man, diet, appearance on Bob Hope charity – another ingenue ungenued by voracious age.
You’re too old, too mature, to be lashing out at this chimera. Why is it that you can’t just enjoy with her her youth, her beauty, her rocket-riding success, her flavor-of-the-monthdom, her … moment? Why can’t you muster some manly beneficence and be her friend? But then look in her eyes once more and you see the truth. The vulnerability you thought you saw is just part of the costume. Deeper still you see the glittery anthracite of hard knowledge: She put on that face, that pout, because she knew how you would react. She never wanted your friendship. Silently she is saying, “Your desire makes me strong.” Though she is new to her power, she knows what it can do and how far she can go with it, like a marksman knows his gun. And she is ruthless. Relish her innocence, but don’t believe it. Here in Hollywood, innocence is just another way to get ahead.