Thursday, April 07, 2011

LLGFF: Together Alone

This year's just concluded LLGFF featured a coachload of ensemble pieces, such as New York-based comedy The Four-Faced Liar and wartime London drama The Night Watch.

The former, which closed the festival last night and is due out on DVD on Monday, is a witty take on that old trope, the conversion job, as 20-something dyke player Bridget falls for straight girl Molly, while they are, eh, researching a project for a literature class. Yes, somehow Wuthering Heights brings them together. That Emily Bronte.

What is interesting in terms of the structure of the film is that the lesbian character is foregrounded among a group of five: straight couples Trip and Chloe and Molly and Greg, plus Bridget. Far from being the odd one out, Bridget is the link between the groups, as she is the housemate of Trip, who becomes friends with deadly dull Greg.

The film has great fun contrasting the dude bonding of the two straight guys with Molly and Bridget's girl-bonding over Bronte and their emotional heart-to-hearts, while at the same time illustrating Bridget's desire to avoid emotional entanglements with anyone. Of course, it all gets terribly messy, but writer-producer-star Marja Lewis Ryan, who adapted the story from her play, is a real find.

Meanwhile, Monday saw the premiere of the BBC adaptation of Sarah Waters' Blitz-era novel The Night Watch. I found this book a bleak read, with the reversed chronology telling the unhappy ending before finishing with the meeting of two of the main characters, Kay and Helen.

The filmed version kept this structure, though sweetening it slightly. Anna Maxwell Martin, who plays Kay, is physically slighter than I would have imagined, but has a very careworn demeanour that fits with the character's stolidness. The Blitz scenes really come to life, and the non-Kay storylines, which I found less interesting in the book, also stand up well.

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