Finally, Park featured Ricki Lake as Peggy, a late-in-life lesbian discovering her sexuality through a series of rather unusual circumstances. Peggy spends most of the movie enacting revenge on her cheating husband (and his oversized SUV), but an awkward kiss with her best friend (Cheri Oteri) convinces her that she’s been missing out on a key element of her identity.
Though Peggy’s tale was only a small portion of the multiple-thread story line (which weaves between interrelated characters independently hanging out in a Los Angeles park on lunch break) — and her initial "Eureka!" moment was rather contrived — the lesbian story line was ultimately sweet and positive.
To say that Park, Nina’s Heavenly Delights and Love My Life (and to a large extent, Itty Bitty Titty Committee ) were departures from coming-out films of the past is a major understatement. These films proved that the coming-out process needn’t always be treated with heavy drama or anguish — that in fact, there may be room for warmth and humor as well.
This year, lesbian/bi characters could be seen in several Hollywood films — as peripheral characters. Unlike 2006, no mainstream films featured lesbian/bi characters in central roles. However, considering the quality of representation in those films (most notably Notes on a Scandal and The Black Dahlia), perhaps the lesbian sidekick isn’t the worst archetype.
Early in the year, Smokin’ Aces was promoted as featuring a pair of lesbian assassins at the center of a complicated hit-and-heist plot. Sykes (Alicia Keys) and Watters (Taraji Henson) are ambiguously lesbian gunwomen hired by corrupt FBI agents out to score on the death of a mob boss. The film was supposed to be an exciting action romp featuring prominent lesbian characters (and a potentially steamy love affair), but the end product failed to deliver on both counts. It seems that the lesbian angle was purely a marketing gimmick.
Independently produced film The Jane Austen Book Club fared better, featuring Allegra (Maggie Grace), a young lesbian jewelry maker, as one of six people who come together to read the works of Austen and discover just how relevant the 19th-century author’s insights on love still are. Though Allegra isn’t featured prominently in the movie, which is based on the novel of the same name, her sexuality is presented as a complete non-issue, and the brief scenes with her girlfriend are sweetly domestic.
Major mainstream release Planet Terror, one half of the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarentino collaboration Grindhouse, featured a tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it lesbian story line. In the film, zombies take over a small town (and presumably, the world), and the residents must band together to survive or else face the horde of undead.
A small plotline is introduced in the beginning of the film wherein Dr. Dakota Black (Marley Shelton) leaves her vaguely crazy husband for Tammy (Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson). It’s actually one of the only under-hyped elements of a film that was intentionally ridiculous and over-the-top.
Finally, Across the Universe featured a lesbian character, Prudence (T.V. Carpio) on the very edges of its trippy 1960s landscape. A musical love story set in that turbulent and psychedelic time, the film is akin to a cinematic train wreck with a fantastic soundtrack, and Prudence did little more than pine after straight women.