Review of “Everything Relative”


The cliches start flying fast and thick from the first few moments of the film with the "lesbians bring a u-haul on the second date" joke, and soon evolve (devolve?) into the repeated use of "sisterhood is powerful," "the personal is political" and "it's all water under the bridge." Not that these first two aren't important political slogans that were revolutionary in their time, but by the end of the movie you felt like you'd just spent two hours at a Michigan Womyn's Festival teach-in.

There are no real plot twists in the film–it all pretty much plays out as expected–and the story seesaws inconsistently between poignant and awkward, funny and corny.

So given all this criticism, why am I still recommending the movie?

First, there are some truly funny moments in the film, including much of the banter between Luce and Gina, and Josie's riff on municipal bonds during the sing-along.

And despite a few really bad lines and moments of overacting by McLaughlin and Negro, the relationship between Josie and Maria is actually well-handled, intelligent, and moving. Lesbians who've "defected" because of homophobia is a particularly thorny issue that has been badly handled (or ignored) in many lesbian movies, but here is approached in a thoughtful and compassionate way. Unfortunately, the side-effect is that bisexuality is not exactly presented in a good light in the film–but on the other hand this film already tackles so many issues that I'm not sure it could cram another one in.

Although the women are obviously similar in some important ways (i.e. mostly white and middle-class), they are fairly diverse in others, such as their careers, religions, appearance, and attitudes towards motherhood. It's nice to see a lesbian film in which there isn't one overarching definition of what a lesbian looks like or does for a living.

Finally, the film's focus on a longtime group of mostly-lesbian friends is refreshing, and Pollack's good intentions shine through the bad dialogue, over-acting, and predictable plot developments. Although my friends from college came of age in a different time than these women, are more diverse, and have different issues (and better hair, mostly), Everything Relative still reminds me of them. And that alone makes it worth watching.

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