Recap Attack: “Bar Girls”

 
 

The next day — Loretta and Rachel have a breakfast picnic in the woods. Rachel talks about why she got married: It was a kind of yuppie/conformity thing.

Loretta: A Subaru station wagon, Sunday picnics in the park, and four kids with names that rhyme.
Rachel: Tommy, Lonny, Johnny … and Justin.
Loretta: Justin?
Rachel: I always wanted to name a kid Justin.
Loretta: I love you.
Rachel: [shocked expression]
Loretta: I love you. It just … it just slipped out. See how easy it is when you feel something? It just comes out. Is that OK?
Rachel: [shrugging and nodding] I love you.

Generally, this movie isn’t exactly accurate when it tries to tell us What Lesbians Are Like. But the early “I love you” is right on, at least in my experience. I’m not talking about moving in — this is not a U-Haul joke. I’m probably giving us too much credit, but I think lesbians are generally a little better at offering love without expecting anything in particular in return. So why not say it? The worst that can happen is she’ll tell you you’re a crazy stalker and she never wants to see you again and she can’t believe you took her to a stupid movie like Bar Girls.

And then comes the sex. Or I guess it’s sex; there’s some skin, and long flowing hair, and soft feminine energy everywhere. This is funny, considering that earlier Loretta was mocking her friend Veronica for wanting a “really feminine” woman, as if only straight girls think that’s appealing.

The kisses are not terrible, but not anything to rewind for. It all feels very choreographed, and no doubt it is. Not that that matters when the actors have chemistry, but I think you can guess how this movie scores on that point.

Some time later — Loretta and Noah are at Loretta’s house, working on another episode of Heavy Myrtle. Rachel arrives to get some hugs and kisses and deliver some news: She just got a commercial. Did we even know she was an actress before now? No, and we’re 39 minutes in. Feels like 390, I know.

Noah asks Rachel how she’s doing, as if they’re buddies. I guess that’s one way to show the passage of time. One might also call it a way to not actually write the movie. Loretta and Rachel sorta start to make out, so Noah bids them farewell. Rachel’s hair commercial is a source of concern for Loretta:

Loretta: Just don’t ever leave me because you get famous, OK?
Rachel: OK. I’ll wait till I’m all washed up.
Loretta: Nooo.
Rachel: I’m kidding! I’m kidding.
Loretta: I want you to move in with me.
Rachel: Really? Oh, really. Oh. [sitting down on the couch] Loretta, if we do move in together, there’s one thing that I’m completely adamant about.
Loretta: [inspecting her fingernails] I’ll clip ’em.
Rachel: [laughing] No. Monogamy. If you ever cheat on me, even just a little, I’ll leave you.
Loretta: How could I cheat on you just a little?
Rachel: Come on, I’m totally serious about this. My father cheated on my mother for years, and it ruined her.
Loretta: OK, OK. Jesus. I feel guilty and I haven’t even done anything. I have never cheated in my entire life. OK, once. I cut school one day. But it was National School Cut day, so everybody did it.

They laugh, but if you ask me, it’s not cool of Loretta to make light of this. I mean, cutting school is a very serious thing.

Now you can make the U-Haul joke — So they move in together. As Rachel unpacks her flannel shirts and Marlene Dietrich portrait (I could not make this up), she suddenly turns pensive.

Rachel: Do you think I’m gay?
Loretta: What do you mean?
Rachel: Well, how do I know for sure?
Loretta: You just know, that’s all. It’s like being French: Either you are, or you’re not.

The best part of this scene (if there’s anything good about it) is what Rachel’s wearing when she poses this question to Loretta. She’s sporting boxers, a cut-off sweatshirt over a T-shirt, and a red bandanna. This is how you know you’re gay, Rachel — look in the mirror. Oh, and Loretta’s wearing a tank top and overalls. Come on.

They’re flirty and silly and I guess it’s all fine, but I wish I had some idea how long they’ve been together. How am I supposed to grouse about it if I don’t have all the facts? (This is what my tombstone should say.)

Hat night — Tonight’s theme at the bar is Hat Night. Oh, that’s not really a theme? That’s OK. If the movie as a whole doesn’t have any themes, neither should the bar.

Loretta has brought her friend Veronica along. You remember her: the one who was flirting with the waitress and wanted Loretta to “get me that lesbian.” Loretta’s friend Tracy — the Southern butch we met briefly at the beginning of the movie — is also there, and Tracy and Veronica hit it off right away.

Veronica: So where are you from, Tracy?
Tracy: I’m from South Carolina.
Veronica: Oh, really? I like your accent. It’s kind of tough and romantic at the same time.
Tracy: Well, thank you.

By the way, there is more flannel and plaid on my screen than you’ll find on the clearance rack at the Wal-Mart in Jackson, Wyo.

Loretta pulls Veronica aside and says, “Tracy is not a femme. In fact, Tracy makes my dad look prissy.” And that’s true, but Veronica doesn’t care.

Loretta: She’s a dyke.
Veronica: Is there something wrong with that?
Loretta: No, it’s just that … she drives a Harley. She’s very learned in the ways of lesbianism. She could overpower a straight girl like you.

She could overpower me, too, but not with her so-called erudition: I’d be blown away by the inauthenticity of her accent.

Tracy gives Veronica some tips at the pool table. Make of that what you will.

Rachel arrives, and as she does, Kimba (another bartender; don’t try to care) tells Loretta that “the one that counts just walked in.” This, I assume, is an homage to Desert Hearts, and you’d think it would class up the ol’ rec room a little, but it doesn’t.

And then somebody else walks in: J.R., a cop with a purple jacket and a royal attitude. She zeroes in on Rachel immediately and isn’t even a little bit intimidated by Loretta.

Rachel thinks J.R. is OK, and even funny. Loretta storms off to “see how Veronica and Tracy are doing.” She really just wants some sympathy, of course. Like most writers in movies (um, and in real life), Loretta is selfish and insecure.

Loretta goes back over to the bar and asks Rachel if she wants to take off. But Rach is having fun and wants to have another drink with J.R. — and so she does, as Loretta whines to Kimba.

Loretta: Is this my relationship with Rachel, or is it every relationship I’ve ever had?

I was thinking something similar myself: Is this Bar Girls, or is it every bad lesbian movie I’ve ever seen?

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