Annette Pryce takes a comparative meander through two queer films about finding love in unexpected places.
Having watched quite a few LGBTQ+ films in my 39 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘overcoming the odds – coming out – run to the airport to tell them you love them’, love story works for us just as well as it works for the heterosexuals. Yet our – as told in the mainstream – love stories, inevitably involve hurting some poor bloke who was probably not a bad guy; but he wasn’t a ‘shiny sparkly lesbian’ that distracted the soon to be girlfriend. It’s just a strange way of telling those stories for Hollywood that I think they prefer it. They perhaps think that most women are heterosexual until, suddenly, their not. There is always a seductress, who is inevitably a woman. You hardly see a film about the married man being seduced by the male co-worker, though that would be amazing. We see it in soaps all the time though.
So I thought that I’d compare two similar LGBTQ+ films that can leave you in tears of laughter or tears of happiness in much the same way. The noughties brought us many things, and tongue in cheek films are among them. The year 2000 saw a film called It’s in the Water .
A small Texas town, a single ‘gay in the village’ spreading a vicious rumour about how the water makes you gay, though it’s clear he’s not the only one, two old friends, a bad marriage, and yep you’ve guessed it, instant lesbianism. No, but seriously, it’s a tongue in cheek nod to the most hilariously hysterical parts of right-wing values that the US has or had. It also deals with bigger issues such as end of life care for patients with AIDS, jealous husbands freezing your joint bank account, and conversion therapy in a weird crude ‘cringey’ way, but without veering too far to the right.
The gay conversion group is made to picket the hospice for AIDS patients, perhaps a metaphor for their own internalised homophobia that led them to ‘brother daniel’s’ ‘homo-no-more’ group. I can’t watch this film more than once every six months as there’s little to it except the emerging relationship between the incredibly attractive two lead actresses, and some bad acting by extras, but it’s something you could watch easily on a Sunday afternoon with some chocolate and a glass of wine and not feel like you’d wasted your time.
This story has been told and re told, but my next favourite was a much more contemporary version : Imagine me and you with Piper Perabo in the lead role.
Their eyes meet, they fall in love, they end up together, and it’s happily ever after.
Their eyes meet, just as Rachel is walking down the aisle to her future husband. She gets married anyway. They get to know each other, they agonise over the situation they both find themselves in, the usual angst that would take a series and a half if it was a soap opera, and Rachel, the newly wed is a hot mess of confusion and fear.
This ends up culminating in a very hot kissing scene in the back of the flower shop. That’s not a euphemism, it was mostly set in a flower shop. The ‘sparkly lesbian’ was a florist. Let the jokes begin. But I digress.
The reason I like this one, apart from the fact that it’s a lovely British film, it has far more mundane realism than previous incarnations of this story. Well maybe not the ‘eyes meeting whilst walking down the aisle’, that’s the fantasy Hollywood bit; but people make mistakes in relationships, they fall in love with other people, and the other person who happens to be single isn’t to blame for this. People inevitably get hurt, and the husband is when he finds out. He retains his self respect and steps aside gracefully, instead of getting the car towed and freezing the bank accounts like the ‘gurning hulk’ of a husband in the small town Texan drama from 2000.
You feel for them all in this film, as everyone loses out in some way at some point, and Luce, (sparkly lesbian), tries to walk away from it all, but inevitably like all good rom coms there is the mad dash across London chasing down a black cab, (which isn’t hard at all), with her soft-hearted and supportive dad ‘Giles’, (Anthony Head for any ‘non-buffy fans’, and who doesn’t like buffy?), and the high-handed wife, and the sparkly lesbian’s mother to boot, all right there egging Rachel on to chase down the woman she loves. It’s so heart warming it makes you wanna cry.
The jilted hubby meets someone new so it all works out for the best.
And they live happily ever after. Isn’t that nice.
I love this film, mainly because it’s a ‘love at first sight’ film for women who love women, finally. I can keep hoping for that thunderbolt, can’t I?
I imagine, me and you.
Follow Annette on Twitter (@lgbtexec)