Synopsis: These six exceptionally well-produced lesbian movies tell the stories of lesbian lives: from sweet love to poignant coming out. Highlights include the magical modern lesbian fairy tale, The Piper; Meredyth Wilson‘s rock n’ roll tale of teen tomboy longing Shugar Shank; and the smash hit sexy romance, Cosa Bella starring drop-dead gorgeous Stephanie Szostak (The Devil Wears Prada) and the lovely Alexie Gilmore (Find Love). Plus: a lesbian Black Power activist tries to hold her relationship together in the sharp period drama, Sarang Song; girl stalks girl in The Uninvited; and This Boy is, of course, a girl.
eyelights: the variety of shorts.
eyesores: the low-budget quality of many of them.
‘She Likes Girls’ is a 2006 lesbian-themed shorts collection by Wolfe Video that I stumbled upon at a local video store in its dying days. Since I like female-centric cinema, and it was cheap, I decided to pick it up.
Released on home video in 2006, the set brings together films of different lengths, by different directors, from different countries and all with different styles. It’s a mishmash with only one commonality: lesbianism.
1. The Piper: ‘The Piper’ is a 2005 British film by Abbe Robinson, based on a short story by Kym Martindale. Amy has an insect infestation in her apartment. Her friend jokingly suggests a pied piper, and that night a female pied piper appears and rids her of the insects. Ultimately, they befriend each other, hang out, and make out. It was a cute fantasy, but it’s very low budget. 7.25
2. The Uninvited: ‘The Uninvited’ is an American film by Louise Runge, in which Mattie goes to her neighbour’s to return a letter that was in her mailbox. She’s not there but, strangely, the door is unlocked. So she enters, looking for her and finds her nowhere. However, when the woman arrives, Mattie is embarrassed and hides in her closet. As she stands there, Shelley chokes on a candy, forcing Mattie out of hiding to rescue her – and then runs. After this, Shelley starts to be overly friendly, obsessive, sort of stalks her. But Mattie is not interested, and awkwardly avoids her. It ends really strangely, with Mattie wandering in the middle of an empty crossroad, stopping and just standing there. It was okay, but a bit awkward, especially in light of the women’s intrusions in each other’s lives, which I didn’t wholly buy. 7.0
3. Sarang Song: Tamika Miller’s ‘Sarang Song’ is set in 1972 and follows lesbian couple Simone and Nessa in the shadows of police brutality on their Los Angeles campus. After a black man is assaulted by a pair of officers, Simone and her student group decide to hold protests, scuttling the lovey-dovey couple’s weekend plans. Unfortunately, the protest doesn’t go as planned, putting stress on the relationship. I liked that there were many discussions about peaceful versus violent protests, about the sacrifices required in order to change things, to fight injustice. I found the performances excellent, but the direction may have been hampered by the ambitious picture’s low budget. 7.75
4. This Boy: This 2002 Canadian film by Amy Burt is set in a small town in the ’60s. Kit, a teenage girl with a mop top and suit, imagines herself as John Lennon and runs around town with Mike. But she has a crush on her classmate, Holly, and, while she’s away, she and Mike break into Holly’s house. Unfortunately, as Kit spends time in Holly’s room, hugging her pillow and playing her music, Mike trashes the place. Trouble naturally ensues and it puts a strain on the girls’ friendship. It’s a good story, but it was poorly acted, especially by the kids, and directed. It’s interesting to note that the soundtrack has pseudo-George Harrison songs (maybe it was meant to be pseudo-Lennon, but it sounded like Harrison to me). 6.0
5. Shugar Shank: This 2005 film by Meredyth Wilson begins with high schoolers Matt and Robin starting a band together, smoking up and making out. But Robin gets awkward about the fact that they’ve kissed and goes out with the band’s singer – a real douche bag who introduces harder drugs into the group and teases the drummer unmercifully until he falls off the wagon. Meanwhile, Matt’s grades are dropping and she’s struggling with her familial relationships. She’s trying to hold on, but everything seems out of her reach. It felt a bit autobiographical, which I liked. And the opening and closing credits were creative, original. The music wasn’t very good, though. Ouch. 6.5
6. Cossa Bella: This 2005 Fiona Mackenzie short begins with Belle waking up next to another girl, looking at the camera and exclaiming, concerned, “Oh my god!”. While she’s at work, Delphine, the other girl, calls; she won’t let go of Belle, despite her protests. Delphine is head over heels in love and her passion draws Belle back time and time again. Eventually, she breaks up with Delphine anyway. But there’s a twist: it’s not that she doesn’t want Delphine, it’s that Delphine is already in a relationship with a man. When Delphine finally decides to break up with her guy, Belle is finally happy. I really liked that this one was set-up in a pretty unpredictable way. Plus which their lovemaking was super sexy. 8.0
In the end, despite the mixed bag, I rather liked ‘She Likes Girls’. I’d certainly suggest giving it a look and I wouldn’t hesitate one bit to pick up the other volumes in the series if I stumble upon them.
Who knows what other gems one might find? If each one has a ‘Cossa Bella’, it’s well worth it.
Dates of viewings: Jan 18-Feb 7, 2016