Sunday, December 7, 2014
Movie reviews: A Perfect Ending, I Can't Think Straight, Kiss Me
A Perfect Ending
F/f-/ May-Dec/ Interracial
Rebecca has a very unusual secret, one that not even her best friends know about. The last person on earth she expects to reveal it to is a high priced escort named Paris. What starts as a comedy of errors ends up a uniquely erotic journey. Rebecca's unconventional efforts to find herself are raw, evocative, and often times humorous, but always very real, very human. Sometimes a perfect ending is not what you expect it to be.
- Written by Soul Kiss Films
You know how you read a book or watch a movie and the story stays with you for days and days and you realize it affected you on a really deep level, this is what A Perfect Ending was for me. It’s gorgeous story both on a human level and on an aesthetic level in how it’s expressed.
There are a crap ton of reviews for this movie, so what I’m going to say about it is how and why it affected me so deeply. The main thing about this movie for me was how beautifully and lovingly it shows human vulnerability and the growth that can happen from a relationship, even a relationship with a complete stranger, and also almost strictly a sexual relationship, in which two people feel totally safe to let themselves open up and heal from personal wounds. It’s also about how we come to terms with what’s important when faced with mortality.
On more practical levels, I love that it featured a middle aged women and a sex worker who is empowered by her choice to be a call girl.
Just for edification, this is not a romance. Nor is it really a lesbian story. Neither of the main characters are lesbians. It’s not about sexual passion either. I do feel this is a love story though and definitely it’s a story about connecting deeply on a human level. But also a warning, ending might disappoint. For me it was more about the ride, the here and now vs forever in what I felt this story was meant to portray.
Rebecca is wealthy middle aged woman who on the surface seems to have it all. And she does-- on the surface. She’s not that unhappy or miserable in general, she just seems to accept the status quo and doesn’t think about her needs or wants too much. There is though, a family secret that has caused her a lot of pain and she cannot get passed it at times.
While out with her best friends, a lesbian couple, she confesses that she’s never felt passion. Nor has she never had an orgasm. This of course shocks her friends who cannot believe it. She further confesses that her marriage is not that great and she rarely has sex. Her friends suggest that maybe she needs a woman to show her what she and her body can feel. They know a madam who runs an agency for call girls and think maybe it would be easier for her if she hired one of those girls to help her with that. She decides to go for it but under the condition that the woman be her own age.
Paris is a young woman who is grieving the loss of her fiancé. She is a call girl by night but an artist by day and she’s definitely not in it for the money only, she’s working out her grief by being a call girl. Maybe it’s her way feel some control about her life during this process. When her older colleague, the one who was supposed to go to Rebecca, asks her to meet Rebecca because she has an emergency, she agrees. When she gets there though, Rebecca is shocked that she ended up with a younger woman, freaks out, and decides not to go through with it. But Paris is very intense and open and accepting and seems to know exactly what Rebecca is about. And Rebecca picks that up.
Rebecca tries a few more times- getting the older woman second time, whom she decides is so not for her, then asks for Paris again. In 3rd meeting, Paris again tries to seduce her but puts no pressure on Rebecca. Finally, Rebecca decides to go for it and it’s amazing for her.
Here I want to interject that actress Barbara Niven did an amazing job of expressing all those fears of not being appealing or desirable being an older woman with older women body flaws. And kudos to her as an actress, who is a very nice looking woman and has an image to maintain, that she showed her actual physical flaws in this movie. I think that took a lot of courage and added to her actual vulnerability as a character.
The first sex scene is really about Rebecca letting go and trusting. Paris being a much younger, very gorgeous woman has the power in this, but she’s portrayed as sort of an experienced, wise, old soul who really is accepting and understanding. She does feel a connection with Rebecca that is beyond their “business” arrangement, so it’s more for her as well. This connection she feels, maybe because Rebecca is also in a very vulnerable space, helps Paris also let go of her grief in a very intimate way.
In case anyone is wondering—although you can see most of the sex scenes are on youtube—the sex between the women is very loving, soft and even though both are naked- it’s not salacious in any way. In fact, there were moments I felt I didn’t want to watch because it felt like I was intruding on some deeply intimate moments. Not the intimacy of sex alone, but the intimacy of being emotionally raw and open during sex. So if you’d watch for some hot girl on girl sex, this is not the movie.
Other than this, I love how this film was filmed. It has almost a Zen-like feel to it. There are lots of fade in and out scenes with action but no words. Since the two women only meet in the hotel room and don’t talk about their lives with each other, the back story of both women, where they are coming from, is told through most of those silent or brief snippets in between them meeting.
The other characters also added a lot to this film. It’s much more than two women connecting, it’s also about life and love and family from and what that all means for a woman.
All in all this movie grabbed me and I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you’re about two people connecting beyond a sexual orientation or if you’re an older woman who would love a story about having courage to experience new things.
Bonus for this movie is that the actress who played Paris is an out lesbian. Something you don’t see hardly ever in lesbian movies. Mostly it’s straight women playing lesbians. So kudos for getting an actual GLBT person to play that role.
Heat level: 3-4- full nudity and sex scenes, very beautifully and aesthetically filmed. Not salacious in any way.
Grade: 5 Stars
I Can’t Think Straight (British)
Adaptation of book by Shamim Sarif
A 2008 romance film adapted from a same name novel about a London-based Jordanian of Palestinian descent, Tala, who is preparing for an elaborate wedding. A turn of events causes her to have an affair and subsequently fall in love with another woman, Leyla, a British Indian.
- Written by Shamim Sarif
I have another book written by this author of the book this story is based off of that I’ve yet to read, so I decided to watch this film instead of that one.
What I loved about this film is that this is a love story that happens between two people from very different backgrounds that happens despite familial, cultural, political and generational conflicts.
Both Tala and Leyla are young women caught between two worlds. They are both living in England, although Tala goes back and forth between Jordan and England. They’ve been brought up exposed to western culture, but both have homes and parents that try to keep their own traditional homeland culture alive. This is one of the main conflicts for both of them and also maybe what helps them understand each other even though of different cultural backgrounds.
They meet just by chance as Leyla’s boyfriend is a friend of Tala. Tala is on her 4th wedding planning, having walked out on the first 3 fiancés just before the wedding. Tala is rather rebellious and being from a wealthy family, her whims and flightiness are somewhat tolerated.
Leyla is a lot more deep and serious about life. She’s a Muslim in her heart, mind and belief, but she doesn’t always go to prayer with her family. She’s also struggling with the contradictions of being a woman growing up in a western culture while dealing with her mother who is very strong in trying to keep their Indian culture alive. This especially becomes an issue when she comes out to her family.
Both women clash at first as Tala, who grew up as a Palestinian Christian Arab, argues that religion and belief are bogus, which kind of pisses Leyla off. But slowly they come together and become good friends and find themselves attracted to each other both romantically and sexually.
Of course, as with many romances between women when one is currently with a man, the main problem between them becomes that Tala is getting married. In this case, I was rather surprised that Tala, who seems to be the more open as one who bucks the system in many ways, feels very strongly about not coming out and won’t defy her family’s culture. She argues with Leyla that Leyla doesn’t get how hard it would be to do that with her family and in Jordan, where the man she’s to marry is from.
On the other hand, this affair pushes Leyla internally to decide that she can’t or won’t hide who she is to her family and friends anymore. So until Tala is willing to accept who she is, Leyla will not see her.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t feeling the romance so much between these two women even though it’s shown they have had attractions to women in the past. Somehow it felt a bit too insta-love for me, which is maybe why this film didn’t affect me other than I love stories that include characters of other cultures and in which those cultures are part of the story. I think maybe it’s also because I wasn’t feeling Tala as a character. She was a little too superficial and a bit cocky for me for most of the film and I felt her not really that serious about Leyla.
But I did feel that Leyla is really in love with Tala and she, as a character, made the film for me.
Other than that, I felt the film didn’t shy away from the truths or realities of cultural and political clashes. I feel some people might be offended by some of what is expressed, however, I took all at face value and as a true portrayal of what is real for people of those cultures.
I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for something a bit different culturally. But as a romance goes, it was just OK.
Heat level: 2 – some sex, no nudity
Grade: 3 ½ Stars
Kyss Mig -Kiss Me (Swedish)
Young woman engaged to be married finds herself in an affair with her stepmother's lesbian daughter.
This was one of the better lesbian movies I saw during my marathon. And I guess from others in the lesbian community they think it’s one of the better ones as well.
Elizabeth and Lassa are an older couple who are about to be married. Both have older, independent children. Lasse had a contentious divorce and his daughter Mia still feels angry with him about what happened. Consequently, she hasn’t visited often. Elizabeth has a grown daughter who is an out lesbian and in a relationship and lives nearby.
At the pre-wedding party, all of them meet for the first time and family drama ensues.
Mia (played by Ruth Vega Fernandez) is sulky and cranky because her father isn’t spending the time with her that she wants. He’s always busy with some job thing. She also shows a pissed/sad face whenever she sees Frida, Elizabeth’s daughter. Frida is light and fun and both Mia’s brother and fiancé are enjoying with Frida. I will say that actress Ruth Vega Fernandez has the perfect sad/pissed off look that worked here.
Anyway, as the days go on, Mia, who is an architect with her fiancé, is to design and extension on a lake house that Lasse and Elizabeth have bought. Lasse was supposed to meet them, but leaves Mia alone with both Elizabeth and Frida, which pisses her off and freaks her out. All of her interactions with Frida show she’s not too happy with this.
However, one night at the cabin, she follows Frida who is out walking in the woods. They barely talk, but then she suddenly kisses Frida. She acts freaked that she did that, but at the same time both women get sexual fairly quickly after that. Of course, as the days go on and they start really falling in love, Frida basically states she will not be a fling for Mia and cuts it off. This forces Mia to confront what she really feels and how far she’s willing to go to be with Frida.
Of course, this new development messes with Mia’s plans for marriage and a lot of pain for all characters in this story happens due to this new love between these women. I felt it was dealt with in a realistic way. I guess there is no easy way to follow your heart when it’s going against everyone you love and the convenience of life at times. But this was one of the better parts of the film.
The only negative thing I will say is that like so many of the lesbian movies I watched these last few weeks, insta-love seemed to be a thing here. I wish there was more of a build-up to why Mia would be attracted to Frida and why Frida would fall so madly in love with Mia that she leaves her long-time girlfriend. There really wasn’t much between them that did show that.
However, what saves this movie is that in the end, I really believed these women want each other badly. Enough that both risk so much to go for it.
For those wondering, this is not really a straight girl falls for a girl and discovers she’s a lesbian. Mia did have a love affair with a woman in the past but felt it freaked her out. So it’s more like lesbian in the closet finally having the guts to be true to herself.
Anyway… this is a definite recommend to watch. I can’t really believe this is the first Swedish lesbian film. Seems like the stereotype that Europeans are more open about stuff like this is not always true.
Heat level: 3-4 Nude sex scene, done showing lots of passion.
Grade: 4 ½ Stars