To Each, Her Own: one mess after another

Closeted lesbian grows up in oppressive religious household, denounces her faith and escapes to the bright lights of the city: we’ve all seen that movie. To Each, Her Own (Myriam Aziza, 2018) ー terrible title, by the way, but we’ll get to that ー focuses on the crises that come after.

Simone, comes from an Orthodox Jewish family and lives with her “room-mate and best friend” (family code for lesbian lover) Claire. Just as she finally thinks she’s ready to come out to her family, she falls for Sengalese chef Wali (a man). A novel and intriguing concept, of course, but where could it possibly lead? Well, as it turns out, both absolutely everywhere and resoundingly nowhere. Let’s get into this hot-mess-express of a shitshow movie, shall we? […]

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Alice Júnior: the pursuit of trans joy

My instinct is to say that this queer coming-of-age film is nothing revolutionary; however, it seems that ー even in 2021 ー a film aimed at teenagers that revolves around trans joy is in fact just that.
Alice Júnior (Gil Baroni, 2019) tells the story of its title character, a vibrant 17-year-old trans girl who’s worried about getting her first kiss. The film’s journey begins when she moves from a fancy apartment in a high-rise building in Recife to the small conservative town of Araucárias do Sul. After incidents of cyberbullying at her new school, she no longer has an online refuge to escape to. Can she reclaim a place in her new life? And, crucially, will she get her first kiss? […]

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The Blonde One: deeper than pure eroticism

The Blonde One is perhaps a generous translation of this film’s title. The original Spanish “Un rubio” is in fact very telling. Juan utters these words to refer to part-time lover Gabriel; it is an indefinite article for an indefinite relationship: to him, Gabriel is simply “a blonde”, another body to use and explore. From the start, what they have together appears strictly casual ー and yet, as time goes on, could there perhaps be more? […]

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Sequence Analysis: The Handmaiden, destroy the library

“The daughter of a legendary thief, who sewed winter coats out of stolen purses. Herself a thief, pickpocket, swindler. The saviour who came to tear my life apart. My Tamako, my Sook-Hee.” So narrates Lady Hideko over perhaps the most celebrated scene of Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden (2016). In the emotional and symbolic climax of this two-and-a-half hour Korean epic, Sook-Hee and Hideko, class enemies turned lovers, destroy a library together, shouting a symbolic fuck you to the patriarchy in the process. In order to understand the full impact of this action for characters and spectators alike, we must first briefly circle back and work out how we got here. […]

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The Handmaiden: Sapphic mystery goes rogue

Crossing, double-crossing, triple-crossing. Failed heists, successful heists, twists. Lesbian sex scenes that reclaim symbols of patriarchy; lead characters defying expectations of womanhood and class in the repressive Japanese-occupied Korea; ripples and reprecussions of political and cultural history. This film has it all. And so much more. Then, just when you think you know what’s going on, your whole reality is turned on its head. Twice. […]

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Your Name Engraved Herein: a love story without any love

Marketed as part- queer coming-of-age story part- bittersweet romance, Taiwan’s most popular film of 2020 landed on global Netflix in December. Complete with a seemingly deep and enigmatic title, Your Name Engraved Herein (Patrick Kuang-Hui Liu, 2020) sells itself as arthouse queer cinema out in the mainstream; it is, after all, the highest-grossing LGBT film in Taiwanese cinematic history. And yet, having reached the end of an intense and brooding 1 hour and 54 minutes, I couldn’t help but ask… am I missing something? […]

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Call Me By Your Name: An adolescent fantasy come to life

“Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine.” It really is the perfect eponymous quote for a film about narcissism and projected self-obsession. Suggested by Oliver to his younger male lover, it reads from his mouth as a yearning for lost youth. Yes, this film is beautifully shot, and yes, the stylisation is exquisite; but this love story is far from pure. […]

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Paraiso Perdido is Gay Netflix’s Hidden Gem

Paraíso Perdido is Portuguese for paradise lost. Set almost exclusively at night in a Brazilian cabaret club lost in time, I could think of no more appropriate a name. Paraíso Perdido (Monique Gardenburg, 2018) follows the lives of a family who own and work at the club after which the film is named. We also meet other performers ーa kind of extended familyー and are introduced to the scene through Odair, a policeman who is given the club’s flyer by a speeding motorcyclist. Odair acts as a way-in for the spectator, and we discover the club, the family and their secrets alongside him. The more time he spends there, the more we all learn about this twisted family touched by tragedy. […]

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Donne-moi la main: mundane but also infinitely confusing

I watched this last weekend with some friends and I just had to find a way to process this clusterfuck of a movie. So here we go. Oh, and just to clarify, it’s not about incest …probably. Donne-moi la main, English translation: Give Me Your Hand, (Pascal-Alex Vincent, 2008) is a French-language film about a twin brothers’ journey across Europe. As they travel to the funeral of a mother they’ve never met, Antoine and Quentin confront their complicated sibling relationship, as well as perceptions of their own and each other’s desires.

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