Sapphic Cinema: “Viola Di Mare”


Hello, and welcome back to Sapphic Cinema, the column series that has made my YouTube homepage the most embarrassing place on Earth. This week we look at 2009’s Viola di Mare (which translates as The Purple Sea, because I guess things are are different colors if you’re European).


Viola di Mare is a great queer film if you stop it at just the right moment. The performances are nuanced, the production value is high, and the leads are two humans who were put on this planet to touch faces. Unfortunately, the film badly overextends itself in the third act and drags viewers from tragedy to triumph and back again.

We begin in Italy. Not Room in Rome Italy, not even Under the Tuscan Sun Italy, but some hardscrabble little island where their only natural resource is rocks and they are running out of rocks. (Seriously, the island’s sole industry is the mining of “tuff,” which I always pretend to think is Marshmallow Fluff, because it has to come from somewhere.)

Into this rather hopeless scene a girl named Angela is born to a father who HATES GIRLS. He wishes Angela had been born a boy and tries to punish the girl out of her, rather like the Dursleys and magic. The first few minutes of the movie are actually pretty shitty because of what a cartoonishly bad guy Angela’s father is. Like, one thing he does is dock a worker’s wages by demanding access to sleep with the guy’s wife. But he is the boss of the Fluff mines, and someone has to extract that gooey deliciousness from the soil.

Angela is a cigarette smoking badass from the age of seven, rebelling against her father at every turn and falling madly in love with her best friend, Sara. But one day, Sara’s father is kidnapped by the army? To fight in a war? The details are unclear, but Sara leaves too, and Angela sits on a rock waiting for her for ten years with no bathroom breaks.


But it’s cool because at the end of that time, she looks like this.


This, just FYI, is the only dress that Angela owns and she picked it to convey a strong desire that everyone leave her the fuck alone or risk being turned into a newt. But then Sara returns, and these days she’s looking like this.

viola4SO YEAH.

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