REVIEW: “Cloudburst” puts a rare focus on the elderly queer community

Cloudburst is the kind of movie our community so greatly needs. It’s an epic tale of love and living life to the fullest, with a rare focus on the elderly queer community. In order for the queer film canon to expand and grow gracefully, it needs to include tales of all of our lives. Cloudburst is an acknowledgement of the lives of older lesbians, and just maybe allows us to glimpse into a future for ourselves full of love and laughter.  The film, written and directed by Thom Fitzgerald, first premiered in 2011 and was recently released on DVD.

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Stella (Olympia Dukakis, sharp as ever) is an old school butch who drives a beat up pick up and fiercely loves her longtime partner Dotty (renowned Irish actress Brenda Fricker).

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Dotty has gone blind over the years and Stella takes care of her lady love in the home they share in Maine. When Dotty sustains an injury involving a vibrator and lesbian porn (but not in the way you think!), her overprotective granddaughter Molly has her put in an assisted living facility. A furious Stella busts her out and the two embark on an adventure to Canada, where they can finally get married after 31 years together. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker named Prentice (Ryan Doucette) and the three become a real motley crew.  The story evolves from two older ladies on the lam to the journeys we take in life, and how family is so much more than just biological.

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There were many moments during the film that I laughed out loud. There is a particular bit about k.d. lang that had me rolling so hard I had to pause the film. Dukakis has always been such a terrific comedic actress, and her timing is impeccable. There are moments where her dialogue appears to be written for shock value, but the actress rises above. Brenda Fricker is absolutely darling as the tender hearted, yet feisty Dotty. The chemistry between the two actresses is wonderful. They really nail the comfort and affection that comes with loving someone for so many years. Ryan Doucette is charming and completely believable as the aimless modern dancer Prentiss.  The movie was adapted from a Canadian stage production of the same name, and a few of the actors who originated the roles in the play reprised their roles.

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There are a few weak spots in the film; parts that felt rushed when they should have been savored and sections of dialogue coming across as a bit disjointed. There is some full frontal male nudity thrown in as well which was fairly gratuitous and went on for quite some time. Overall though, Cloudburst a beautifully acted and engaging love story. Prepare to laugh, cry, and fall a little bit in love with Stella and Dotty.

Cloudburst is available on DVD and digital rental through Wolfe Video.

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