Sexy and offbeat, Bloomington is a fantastic little drama from writer-director Fernanda Cardoso. Smartly playing with – and even subverting – the teacher-student lesbian romance, it’s a refreshing treat in a summer swimming with overdone melodramas.
Sarah Stouffer plays Jacqueline, a child star that has grown up and decided to go to college in Bloomington. She navigates the hallways and quadrangles just fine, but comes across an uncomfortable student population who alternatively fawns over her, (as big fans of Neptune 26, her cult TV series) or cast disapproving looks at the pampered ex-star.
Jackie herself hates the attention. As a straight-edged girl with a solid head on her shoulders, she honestly wants to learn – and get away from her obnoxious mother. She quickly takes on two majors, (English Literature and Psychology, of course) and buckles down with a study group of uneasy buddies.
As it turns out, she’s trying to escape from tragedy, as much as the craziness of showbiz, and her dysfunctional family life. It turns out that she left her show voluntarily after the death of a close friend, prompting the move out of Hollywood and the limelight in general.
It shows in her body language and her general savvy about people – Jackie may be a young adult, (perhaps 20 or so), but she’s not your average party-hearty kid. Nor is she a typical ex-child star, if such a thing exists. She carries herself as if she is older and wiser than everyone around her, though she never lords it over her supposed peers.
It doesn’t take her long to bump into Catherine Stark (Allison McAtee), a gorgeous Abnormal Psychology professor with a rumored knack for bedding her students – male and female. Faster than you can scream "holy Loving Annabelle, Batman", the two begin a romance that is as hot as it is a bit bothersome.
Catherine is smoldering. She’s as traditionally beautiful as a Hitchcock blond, incredibly smart, and almost improbably perceptive. When she and Jackie first begin their affair, she’s gentle and giving – using her own gifts as a psychologist to find out exactly what Jackie needs – and she certainly provides. She is playful, sexy, and ultimately kind to her young lover, but of course, it all feels a bit guilty – deliciously so.