“Suicide Kale” is a very queer and funny dark comedy

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Doesn’t it suck when your best friends invite you over for lunch and you have to figure out which one wants to off herself? What, that’s not funny or all that realistic? It is when it’s done in the name of dark comedy. Suicide Kale writer/producer/star Brittani Nichols approves your laughter.

You don’t even have to watch this movie to know that, with a name like that, it’s the most geared toward lesbians dark comedy feature that ever was. But do watch it, because it’s funny.

So what’s it about? Its premise is pretty simple: new couple Jasmine (Nichols) and Penny (Lindsay Hicks) have come over for lunch with their friends Billie (Jasika Nicole) and Jordan (Brianna Baker), who have been together for five years and are now “enjoying” married life. It’s all very much “bliss of a new couple meets the realness of a long-term relationship.” And it all would’ve been just your typical conversation over a meal if Jasmine hadn’t found what she believes is either Billie or Jordan’s suicide note. Yeah, that’ll make things awkward…

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How’d that even happen? Well still being new lovebirds, Jasmine and Penny decided to get frisky in Billie and Jordan’s bedroom (which, worst guests ever!). Although they were interrupted before anything really fun could happen, Jasmine had enough time in there to find an oddly tucked away note. It reads like a suicide note, and Jasmine is, unsurprisingly, one of those people who don’t handle those kinds of notes well.

There’s only one person she can share the stress of this situation with—Penny. Now while Penny is lovely, she’s also a bit of a goof and a pessimist herself. She might not be the best confidant in this scenario, but she’s all Jasmine has and they’re going to “suss” this out together.

That’s great, except for there being a couple in another room that can’t help but think there’s something wrong with their friends because they’re acting really weird. So now you have two couples judging the other over bites of kale.

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As you’re probably starting to guess, this is a very dialogue-heavy film. There’s not much action at all, but what’s said is really, really good, even if it is a bit of a slow build. A perfect example of this? The four of them do eventually get to talking about suicide, even though we still don’t know if that was a suicide note, or if it was Billie or Jordan who wrote it. And if it was a suicide note, Billie, or Jordan, wouldn’t have known that Jasmine and Penny know about it. There’s just so much reading between the literal and figurative lines! In any case, it’s a frank discussion about suicidal thoughts. ‘We’ve all thought about it,’ everyone but Jasmine agrees. Well there goes Team Jasmine-Penny.

That’s nothing compared to the other issues this visit is bringing up for the duo, like Penny’s history of doomed relationships because of her self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. By the way, I do find it hilarious that these two have managed to make this moment about their relationship even though they think one of their friends is contemplating suicide because of her own imperfect relationship. This is clearly the perfect time to be self-absorbed.

Billie and Jordan get a front row seat to all of it, but they’re really in no position to judge. While they like to pretend they’re perfect (see beautiful home, their two cars and the dog they share with another couple), Jordan isn’t happy with her job and Billie is beside herself trying to make her wife happy.

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This all culminates in moments of dysfunction for all of them that, while sad, are absolutely hysterical. It helps that all four characters have unique and interesting personalities that stand up on their own. You believe them as people and, in spite of their very obvious flaws, you like them.

And not that you needed more reasons to like this film, but the fact that is was created by a team of queer women and puts queer women of color front and center definitely does not hurt. A low-budget, highly improvised effort shot over the course of a few days, Suicide Kale is proof that today we can expect more from lesbian indies.

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Suicide Kale is playing at the Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto on May 30. For news on future screenings, visit the movie’s website.

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