The title of So My Grandma’s A Lesbian! (2019, Ángeles Reiné), or Salir del ropero in its original Spanish, already tells us what we need to know. We meet the anxious and uptight Eva, and her grandma is indeed a lesbian. Finally coming out in their 70s, Sofía and her friend-for-life-turned-lover Celia want to get married. But when the wedding threatens to scandalise more than just their small town, the couple struggle with their decision to declare their love so publicly. Chaos ensues in the form of Catholic outrage, paparazzi storms and even phone calls from the Pope.
In terms of narrative, the film leans its focus towards Eva. Raised by her grandmother in Lanzarote, Eva searches for stability and wealth and finds herself a rich Scottish husband, Stuart. When her grandmother shares her wonderful news, Eva does what most obnoxious straight people would do: she makes it about her. Soon she makes it her mission to stop the wedding, fearing that openly queer family members might jeapordise her own wedding to Stuart, whose family is ultra-conservative.
Sadly, Eva spends most of the film as a deeply unlikeable character, and I’m not sure if we’re meant to sympathise with her selfish plight, (though she does at least get somewhat of a development arc). Her story plays out like a Hallmark Christmas movie: a woman who’s moved to the big city returns to her hometown and falls for her childhood almost-sweetheart. In this case, Jorge ー who is conveniently Celia’s son, so the son of Eva’s grandmother’s lesbian lover ー is the love interest. With the rest of the film playing out as two boring straight people trying to stop their gay mother / grandmother getting married, I’m not sure I’m going to be rooting for this.
The focus on Eva and Jorge’s romantic storyline struck me as a bizarre choice for a film with the word lesbian in the title. Then again, the film is called “So My Grandma’s a Lesbian!” and not “So I’m a Lesbian Grandma!” so maybe I should have seen this coming.
When they do appear, the relationship between Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà) and Sofía (Verónica Forqué) becomes the film’s highlight. Their bond is tender, pure, and above all joyous. It is so refreshing to see older queer people as major characters in narrative cinema ー often they are confined to documentaries or based-on-real-life storytelling. Sardà and Forqué share a sense of careless queer joy that is infectious. After all, as you get older, you don’t care what people think about you; the two women act that “not giving a fuck” energy so well. A pretty solid couple, they don’t have any major bumps to overcome together: everyone else has an issue with how they want to present their love, but they stay steady.
Britney Line Time: “Up ’til now, I thought I knew love / Nothing to lose and it’s damaged / ‘Cause patterns will fall as quick as I do, but now / Bridges are burning / Baby, I’m learning a new way of thinking”
I would have liked to see more from Celia and Sofía’s relationship. In one of the film’s more heartfelt moments, Sofía is chatting with her daughter (and Eva’s mother) Natasha, telling her how the two first fell in love many decades ago, only to soon run away from each other out of fear. I doubt Netflix will make a follow-up story, but if they do, I would like to see a Celia-Sofía origin story prequel.
Biggest Gay Mood: Having a crush on someone for over 50 years and not telling them
So My Grandma’s A Lesbian! is chaotic from the beginning, and we love that. We’re planted in medias res (a narrative device from the Latin, literally ‘in the middle of things’), so you have to work out who is who and what is going on. Even the accents are chaotic: in one scene, we are witness to a Portuguese-Scottish woman (Stuart’s mother) speaking Spanish. How’s that for pan-European cinema?
Top Tip: This film is beautifully multilingual, see if you can spot them all! I found four languages: Spanish, English, Portuguese and French
This film is not particularly ground-breaking, but if you can ignore the tired straight rom-com storyline, you can have a pretty good time. The film’s heart and humour shine in moments of queer joy, and I think those are worth sticking around for.