[Note: This was not originally part of my "Died / Recanted / Unhappy / Came Out" movie review series, but in migrating it over to the Alpennia blog, I'm including it in the overall index for that series.]
I'd kept hearing about this new lesbian-themed French movie -- Cannes award winner -- and went out of my way to see it in that brief blip of time when it was showing somewhere other than one obscure theater in a not-public-transit-accessible corner of San Francisco and before it blinked out of existence altogether. This gave me a one-week window and a location in downtown Berkeley, so I squeezed it in on last Wednesday after work (since I only found out that was the last week on Monday, already had Tuesday and Thursday evenings booked, and it would by gone by Friday). Going to see it on a work night turned out not to have been entirely the best idea. My brief review on facebook begins "Very long. Very artsy. Very French." The film is over 3 hours long and the vast majority of that time does not advance the story or elucidate the characters in any meaningful way. Now, to be fair, it only felt like half that time was spent on tediously extended sexual encounters. But let's just say that if the director had gotten over the whole thing of "I'm French, I can get away with spending an hour showing explicit lesbian sex on screen and calling it Art so I'm going to do it," it would have gone some distance towards making this an enjoyable and meaningful film. Yes, by all means, let's have more movies that don't treat F-F relationships as either taboo or exotic, but this is not one of those movies.
I suppose the younger female lead is supposed to come off as confused and messed up in an innocently high-school-I'd-be-like-this-if-I-were-straight-too sort of way. But to the extent that that was the goal, she comes off as an unlikable character. It's ok to be confused about what you want romantically and sexually. And it's understandable to be afraid of being honest with less open-minded friends and family if you're stepping outside society's comfort zone. But she ends up being a habitual pathological liar who reaps the natural consequences of that in the destruction of her hopes and dreams and hurts everyone she interacts with in the process. Oh, and she never NEVER has a handkerchief on her at any of the multiple times when she starts blubbering when those consequences slap her in the face. Honey, snot is not your most attractive feature.
The second lead -- the artist with the blue hair -- is a far more likable character and one has to cheer when she holds fast to the position that you don't get to screw her over twice, not even for great sex, and walks off into the sunset with a happy, if not over-the-top OMG mind-blowing relationship. She was willing to take the chance on being someone's First Lesbian Relationship, even against her better judgment, gave it a sincere effort, and knew when to set boundaries and hold to them. Her girlfriend's insecurity, dishonesty, and personal aimlessness are not her responsibility. Go her.
I may have missed some nuances of the plot -- I did nod off at least once -- but I kind of doubt it.