the great lesbian movie marathon of end-2020
This was technically a year-opener; apologies for the delay.
Manila, 20 January—As is customary for the holidays, C and I marathoned some really good movies with women-loving-women characters. Such a good way to spend our joint downtime, really.
For your watch lists, in case you’re in need of recs:
Ammonite (Francis Lee, 2020) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Briefly: Kate Winslet (renowned paleontologist Mary Anning) and Saoirse Ronan (Charlotte Murchison) trudge through a rocky English seaside looking for fossils, and then some. It’s like a dreary sister of Portrait of a Woman on Fire—the colors are muted and somber, but they get brighter and starker as the two women find warmth in each other. Kate Winslet described her experience choreographing the movie’s sex scene with Saoirse Ronan as “not quite like eating a sandwich.” This lives rent-free in my head.
Watch for: Stellar acting from both the leads + surprise Fiona Shaw (!!—a delight). Also: That brief glorious interlude in the beach under the sun—hands down my favorite scene off this film.
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Briefly: Rachel Weisz plays the cunning Lady Sarah of Marlborough, trusted confidante-slash-lover of Queen Anne (played by the magnificent Olivia Colman), who is so influential, having her favor is almost always equivalent to having the Queen’s. Enter Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), Lady Sarah’s distant poor cousin, who arrives at the castle looking for work. When Abigail is appointed the Queen’s Lady of the Bedchamber, she works her way up to the Queen (if you know what I mean) and soon engineers her cousin’s ouster. The once all-powerful Lady Sarah’s downfall is a sight to behold.
Watch for: If you liked Game of Thrones for all that scheming between queens and all that politics behind the scenes, this is for you. Also: Rachel Weisz with a riding crop. Rachel Weisz shooting an old rifle. In boots. Basically, Rachel Weisz.
Disobedience (Sebastián Lelio, 2017) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Briefly: Rachel Weisz (again), long estranged from her Orthodox Jewish hometown and family, returns home for the funeral of her father and reunites with her childhood best friends who are now married (Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola). It’s complicated, and bleak, and sweet, and hot. With a funeral as a backdrop, it’s unavoidably heavy, but I was rather (surprisingly) pleased with that ending. I wish I wrote this story.
Watch for: The Rachels, of course. So damn electric together, wigs notwithstanding.
Vita & Virginia (Chanya Button, 2018) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Briefly: Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton play Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, novelists and lovers. Yes, really.
Watch for: The dialogue! Gorgeous. The movie lifts from actual letters penned by Vita and Virginia, back in the day, and oh my, did they know how to write letters then. Debicki and Arterton take turns reading the missives—the scenes take on this dreamy quality, and you should really hear Arterton in this. It’s life-changing.
What’s on your watch list this year?
Happy watching! XO,