The Year in Queer 2006: Movies

on

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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