The Year in Queer 2006: Movies

 
 

Imagine Me & YouAdaptation

A more encouraging
trend seen in the small number of lesbian films produced in 2006 was the ability
of filmmakers to successfully adapt conventional genres to tell queer stories,
and to do so with relative success. The biggest mainstream success story of
the year was Imagine
Me & You
, writer-director Ol Parker’s romantic comedy about a bride
who falls for the female florist who creates the arrangements for her wedding.

Lesbian favorite
Piper Perabo (Lost
and Delirious
) played the runaway wife, with Lena
Headey
co-starring as the lesbian who tried not to fall for the woman who
seemed to be so classically unavailable. The film was bolstered by solid production
values (it was distributed by Fox Searchlight), a uniformly strong cast, believable
chemistry between the two female leads and — gasp — a happy lesbian ending.

It’s worth noting
that Imagine Me & You, interestingly, was not originally conceived
of as a lesbian film. At one post-screening question-and-answer session, Parker
said that he initially had written the star-crossed lovers as male and female,
but some people he consulted found the story too predictable in that incarnation.
Parker then rewrote both characters as women, and a new lesbian classic was
borne.

Not surprisingly,
some still criticized the film for making the same errors found in straight
romantic comedies, such as hackneyed dialogue and scenarios and an overly sappy
tone, but overall the film was embraced by lesbian audiences.

Along the same
lines, Red
Doors
, a quirky, independent film about the complex relationships between
members of a Chinese-American family, was well-received by critics and audiences
alike and won numerous awards at film festivals across the country. In the film,
three Chinese-American daughters deal with their suicidal father while exploring
their own unique romantic entanglements. One daughter (played by Elaine Kao)
falls in love with a female Hollywood actress (played by Mia Riverton, who also
co-produced the film), and in a progressive step for a film portraying Asian
Americans, the Chinese parents quickly accepted their new queer daughter.

As one of the few
queer features of 2006 to focus on a lesbian of color, Red Doors managed
to defy both ethnic and sexual stereotypes while working within the family drama
genre, and the filmmakers (writer-director-producer Georgia Lee and producers
Jane Chen and
Riverton) did
it all without the support of a major studio
.

Another positive
cinematic trend is the successful inclusion of complex gay male characters in
genre films, ranging from the disaster genre (Poseidon) to horror (Hellbent),
romantic comedy (Adam & Steve) and teen sex comedy (Another
Gay Movie
). In November 2006, AfterElton.com columnist Brent Hartinger
wrote,

“A year and a
half ago, I predicted
that the next wave in gay entertainment would be gay “genre” projects: books
and movies and television shows that aren’t about Being Gay, but that are
instead stories where the character just happens to be gay. If the last year
and a half is any indication, I think I was right on.”

It remains to be
seen if lesbian filmmakers — or even straight filmmakers who make films about
lesbian characters — will find the same success by tapping into the genre
vein. If the response of audiences to films like Imagine Me & You,
Red Doors and modern lesbian classics like Bound are any
indication, genre films would be the next logical step in the evolution of lesbian
film.

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