Based on a true story, Mask is alive with the rhythms and textures of a unique life. Rocky Dennis (Eric Stoltz) is a 16-year-old afflicted with a rare bone disease which has ballooned his head to twice its normal size and cast the shadow of an early death over him.
Rocky is one of those rare individuals who has a vitality and gift for life and the emphasis here is not on dying, but living. The irony of the title is that his feelings are exposed far more than is customary and his experiences are intensified rather than dulled.
One of the accomplishments of Mask is the fullness of the environment it creates. Foremost in that portrait is Rocky’s mother Rusty (Cher) and her motorcycle-gang friends.
Both in the background and foreground, Mask draws a vivid picture of life among a particular type of lower middle class Southern California whites.
Much of the credit for keeping the film from tripping over must go to the cast, especially Stoltz, who, with only his eyes visible behind an elaborate makeup job, brings a lively, life-affirming personality to his role without a trace of self-pity. Equally fine is Cher, who perfectly suggests a hard exterior covering a wealth of conflicting and confused feelings.
1985: Best Make-Up