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Reporters Eden, Shola and Jake headed to the BFI's annual celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and identity on screen at the Flare Film Festival. Read on below for their reviews and look out for the films in a cinema near you soon!
Vita and Virginia tells the story of Virginia Woolf's and Vita Sackville-West's complicated romance. The film's unique cinematic style, along with its at times pretentious dialogue, means that it is difficult to get accustomed to - however, when I did, it became absolutely mesmerising. Elizabeth Debicki's performance captures the emotional complexity and intensity of Woolf, leaving the audience completely spellbound. If you are not a fan of the writer's work, the set pieces and costumes alone are beautiful to enough to watch for hours. Although there are some clichéd moments, the film as a whole is enthralling and will appeal to anyone interested in Virginia Woolf, or emotionally challenging love stories.
Tell It to the Bees centres around the relationship of a struggling single mother in 1940s Scotland who sparks a relationship with a female doctor, and the scandal and heartbreak that comes with homosexuality in this time period. Both the story and filmmaking are standard and far from unique, however the lead performances manage to save the film. The chemistry between Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger is undeniable, making their relationship extremely watchable. Their relationship is a healthy one, which is uncommon in the presentation of lesbian couples on screen. This, along with a extremely sweet child protagonist works to emotionally involve the audience in the film despite some of its more clichéd elements. All in all, if you like a classic period drama, or a love story against all the odds, you will enjoy this film.
As part of the BFI Flare Festival, celebrating all things LGBTQ+, I got to see Giant Little Ones. Having never heard of the film or director Keith Behrman, I didn't have many expectations of the film however, I am quite partial to a good ‘underdog' indie flick so I was looking forward to it. The story focuses on Franky and his best friend Ballas, and how their relationship deteriorates after a drunken incident got them closer than ever, but ultimately caused a huge rift between them.
What I really enjoyed about the film was how each scene flowed into the next - its my favourite way of storytelling. It felt kind of dreamlike, and DOP Guy Godfree used a range of stunning insert shots to introduce each scene. It's the old ‘show, don't tell' technique, which really drew me in and equally created an air of ambiguity which left me pondering each moment of protagonist Franky's story.
I think Giant Little Ones is a great watch for anyone one who, like me, is questioning their sexuality or identity. There's so much heart to the story and overall, I think it tackled the topic of sexuality in a thoughtful way.
Tucked is a comedy drama that tells the story of Jackie, a drag queen, in her last weeks of life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The film successfully breaks down stereotypes with Jackie being a straight man and also a drag queen, defying the archetype typically seen in media. Tucked is quite humorous when Jackie's performing on stage and dishing out numerous lewd jokes that are bound to make you a cackle. It is not as successful, however, in its attempts to be emotionally moving, as Jackie's illness is treated tersely and the film's ending is too predictable to be satisfying. Yet, the film redeems itself with strong performances from Derren Nesbitt (Jackie) and Jordan Stephens (Jackie's new drag queen friend, Faith); who embraced their characters and acted in a way that portrayed emotional depth and gave layers to the roles. Overall, I'd recommend the film to those who long for a realistic portrayal of drag queen culture, compared to the more extravagant RuPaul's Drag Race, and to those who like watching films that offer a fresh perspective whilst being accessible.
Vita and Virginia is a romantic film on Virginia Woolf's up-and-down affair with novelist and socialite Vita Sackville-West. Gemma Arterton is superb as Vita as she paraded her multifaceted personality - switching from being charming to infuriating. The film was, surprisingly, more revealing than I anticipated, exploring other narratives including the unconventional relationships of Vita's husband Harold Nicholson. However, I think that some of Chanya Button's choices as director were not wise and, therefore, diminished my enjoyment of the film. Namely, the fantasy sequences that visually portrayed Woolf's motifs in her writing made little sense. Yet, the Button's use of stream of consciousness narrative captured Virginia's modernist writing style and, with its shifting perspectives allowed audiences to gain a greater insight into the complexities of Vita and Virginia's relationship. Overall, I highly recommend this film for the enticing storytelling, and anyone interested in modernist history, literature or art will relish it.
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Reading time 5 mins
We recommend five titles to look out for at BFI Flare, the UK's largest LGBTQ+ film festival, which takes place in London from 21-31 March 2019.
Reading time 6 mins
A list of films on Into Film+ and Into Film+ Premium exploring and celebrating issues and discussion points surrounding LGBTQ+ stories around the world.
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