Touching and poignant, this acclaimed coming-of-age comedy is the story of two teenagers who unexpectedly experience the excitement, surprise and romantic fantasy of first love. Randy (Laurel Holloman, TV’s “The L Word”), a rebellious working class tomboy, meets the beautiful, well-to-do Evie (Nicole Parker, Boogie Nights) when she brings her Range Rover into the repair shop where Randy works after school. Immediately intrigued by each other, the two girls discover their subsequent friendship develops into an unlikely romance that impacts their lives in ways they could never have imagined. Matter-of-fact, funny and sincere, Two Girls in Love is the perfect date movie for all.
eyelights: Nicole Ari Parker. Laurel Holloman. the girls’ sweet wooing. Evie and her mom’s relationship. some of the creative camera work. the sexy bits.
eyesores: the production’s limitations. some of the performances.
Coming-of-age stories are a dime a dozen. But, in 1995, gay coming-of-age stories were rare.
Enter Maria Maggenti’s ‘The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love’, which tells the story of two teenaged girls meeting and falling in love at the end of their final year of high school. It tackles the complexities of being a lesbian in a small town where everyone knows your name – and of the impact this can have in one’s social and family life.
The picture begins with Randy, an impulsive tomboy who tells us that she lives only for the moment. She’s struggling in school by day, working at the local garage on her time off, and having an affair with Wendy, a married woman. One day she meets Evie, a well-to-do girl who stops by the garage for help with her Range Rover. She’s immediately smitten with her.
Luckily for Randy, it so happens that they go to the same school: they cross paths in the bathroom after Evie’s had a rough time with her boyfriend. They discuss the complexities of relationships and become friends. Randy comes on to Evie, but Evie is unconcerned – and even stands up for her when her long-time friend poke fun at her for hanging out with a lesbian.
Soon Randy calls off her affair with Wendy, whose marriage is strained by their dalliance, and Evie calls it quits with Hayjay, who is tired of Evie’s more cerebral ways. They start exchanging notes in school, Evie brings Randy a book of poetry, and Evie invites her to dinner with her makeshift family – which consists of her lesbian aunt, her aunt’s partner, a friend and an ex.
Randy and Evie are falling in love.
But it won’t be a smooth ride: Randy is failing Math, which means that she won’t graduate, and Evie is ditched by her friends, who don’t understand that she hasn’t changed, despite her sexuality. When they spend the weekend together at Evie’s place, while her mother is away for a conference, the situation will only get more complicated: they are found out.
I found ‘The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love’ really sweet, delightful. I loved watching the girls slowly fall in love, gradually winning each other over, tentatively holding hands at the local dinner, and eventually kissing under the stars. Their blossoming relationship felt realistic to me, very much reminded me of what it’s like at first.
I also quite enjoyed our leads, Nicole Ari Parker, as Evie, and Laurel Holloman as Randy. They were both perfect for the parts and I found their performances really quite good considering their age, and the fact that it was some of their first big screen roles. I was especially fond of the sweetness that Parker imbued Evie and was captivated by crystalline eyes.
The rest of the cast, unfortunately, wasn’t nearly as good; it was very hit and miss. The worst of the bunch, in my estimation, was Maggie Moore, as Wendy: she just plowed her way through her scenes with all the subtlety of a WWE performer. There was also Nelson Rodríguez, as Randy’s friend, Frank. I don’t know if he was trying to be “gay” or if he just overacted.
Of course, this is to be expected from a low-budget film that was shot over 21 days – so it can be forgiven.
This also allows one to ignore the less successful directorial choices made along the way; given that they were likely shooting 3-4 pages per day, there had to be little time to correct mistakes. So that dinner scene in which people are walking back and forth repeatedly in front of the camera to emulate a busy kitchen? And the weird audio when Randy’s counsellor spoke?
Especially seeing as there were some really beautiful and/or creative shots along the way, such as when we first meet Randy’s “family” and they’re readying dinner: the camera slowly pans back and forth, right to left, to show us all that’s taking place – instead of just doing a wide shot. With all the colourful food the whole set up it was very pleasing to the eye.
Even their love-making scene was shot in a way that was equally artsy, tasteful and sexy. It was all shot in shadows, in close-ups, so that their bodies intermingled, blended as one. It was exactly the type of love scene that I like: not necessarily explicit, but all caresses… soft, slow, lingering. Hollywood could take some lessons from Maggenti in eroticism.
I also liked the way that she expressed Randy and Evie’s lifestyle and personality differences by putting them in similar contexts that expressed themselves differently – like the lovers’ quarrel that Randy and Wendy have, followed by Evie and Hayjay’s, or the way that Randy’s family life was more bohemian, buzzing whereas Evie’s was more conservative and subdued.
I also very much enjoyed the relationship that Evie had with her mother: they were both smart, educated people and lived together in a large home, but maintained a closeness that can only be envied. They could also discuss anything, soberly, honestly, which is a perfect model. The only problem is that her mother has a difficult time letting her grow apart.
I also liked that this is (what appears to me to be) a rare example of African-Americans casually being shown as well off and educated, perhaps in a ‘The Cosby Show’ model. Evie and her mom don’t follow the conventions we see in cinema and yet this is never explicitly discussed – and neither is the fact that Evie and Randy’s relationship is not just gay but biracial.
Frankly, I loved that Maggenti didn’t get up on a soap box and make overt political statements with her picture; I loved that she just injected her values in it and allowed people to simply witness the possibilities. When we subtly intermingle with new models we’re more likely to allow these possibilities to co-exist and even adopt them. Confrontation isn’t always necessary.
Sometimes, but not always.
So, ultimately, I really enjoyed ‘The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love’. It’s a beautifully-crafted film, and given what she had to work with, Maggenti really made movie magic. Granted, it suffers from its weaknesses somewhat, but it deserves much respect for what it’s managed to become despite that. I’m really intrigued by what else Maggenti has done.
And I look forward to finding out.
Date of viewing April 17, 2016