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Everything Relative (1996, 110 minutes)

September 6, 2010

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Summary:

Old college chums get together for the weekend for a reunion that is bound to open old wounds and perhaps heal them. A lesbian Big Chill.

The Review:

This is the kind of movie you enjoy more as it progresses or even better on second viewing. At first there are too many things going on, too many people coming in all at once. Quite a few key plot points are revealed before we even know who these women are. I found that the second viewing helped me sort it out. Otherwise, you find yourself asking questions like, “who is the straight girl again?” The second thing that some will find objectionable is all the singing in the movie. These women reminisce about a time and a place that very few of us have seen. Unrecognizable songs are sprinkled throughout the movie to add to the nostalgia. These songs are nostalgic to no one but the characters. Other than that, you can add this movie to the growing number of movies that represent different strands of the lesbian community.

You had the hip Chicago girls in Go Fish, the femme, superficial L.A. girls in Bar Girls and now the feminists of Everything Relative. I know I am simplifying these movies, but what would the dykes from Go Fish do with the ones in this movie? Well, either way it is a welcome addition. At times (particularly towards the end) you can almost sense the intensity of the friendship between the women.

Clearly, Sharon Pollack’s movie is somewhat autobiographical. Whenever a movie is so specific about a time and place you have to wonder. In addition, the movie’s dedication is to a woman who died young just ike a character in the movie. This biographical aspect makes the shared history in the film more obvious to the writer/director than to anyone watching the movie. Try to guess what these women did together in college. I am still not even sure how long they hung out together. The movie struggles to quickly build characters that have a complicated history together. A particularly annoying moment is when the characters are in the market chatting warmly through a mirror, high on the wall. It aimed for cute but landed on phony.

However, the movie does pick up, after all, how can you go wrong when you have six major lesbian roles and only one straight major character in the whole movie?  Instead of one potential couple, like most movies, you find 3 potential couples. But it isn’t all about romance. This movie is an exploration of what happens after you fall in love. In other words, this movie is neither a coming out movie nor a love story (although there is love). The women in this film explore the conflicts that comes when you have together for a long time, when you split up, or give in to pent up passion. It is about lesbian life beyond the initial, magical, falling in love. It is also the first movie (at the time of release) I can recall that deals with being a chosen lesbian parent (i.e. not from a previous straight encounter).
As far as the lesbian content, well it is satisfying. These women, though not particularly young, are appealing. There are three potential couples and they all end up with happy endings. This brings me to the reason why this movie doesn’t rate better. It wraps up too nicely in the end. Everyone’s happy, no one goes home unsatisfied. With all the problems the women bring to the table, it seems rather contrived. If only real life was like that.

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From → Movies

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