Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E is a defining exploration of gender, sexuality and isolation in adolescence in the early millennium. Packing a powerful punch with an honest portrayal of vulnerability and desire, while equally exploring the nativity and emotional intensity of puberty. With Paul Dano giving an exceptional and highly complex debut performance. One that delicately yet decisively explores the turbulence of sexuality and gender in youth. While at the same time surrounding this with complexity of a family breakdown and need for emotional connection.
Controversial from start to finish, L.I.E is a nuanced exploration of adult grooming, control and belonging; in a film that stays with you long after the credits roll. Highlighting the vulnerability inherent in young people as they explore their sexual orientation and the realities of their own control of those around them.
Following A Fantastic Woman’s success, Sebastián Lelio’s English language debut offers a nuanced exploration of the interface between religion and sexual orientation. The secret love between two women in an orthodox Jewish community taking centre stage.
Adapted from the novel by Naomi Alderman. Disobedience expertly weaves a story of love and passion. While never forgetting the moral maze of religious beliefs that control community structures and rules. Disobedience never seeks to judge or dismiss religion but does raise questions about the interface between personal freedom and control. Challenging the audience to explore their own thoughts on the relationship between faith and sexual orientation.
TransAmerica is a beautifully nuanced comedy/drama that takes on significant social issues. While never falling into the trap of embracing moralistic messages. With truly engaging performances from both Huffman and Zegers, TransAmerica embraces diversity in all its complicated attributes. Allowing the audience time to reflect, laugh and build a sense of belonging with its characters during a genuinely unique road movie.
Bad Education (2004)
Bad Education is perhaps one of Pedro Almodóvar’s most personal films. Set in 80s Madrid, a young filmmaker (Fele Martínez) is searching for a story that could become his next film project. His world turned upside down when a man claiming to be his old school friend and first love, Ignacio (Gael García Bernal), walks into his office with a script. While Ignacio’s script focuses on the abuse they suffered at the school priest’s hands long ago. Something he had pushed into the deepest recesses of his mind. But, Ignacio’s script is far more than a mere distant memory; it is a fantasy born of a desire for revenge fantasy that oozes with unrequited young love.
Almodóvar weaves his story through a maze of Hitchcock like puzzles, never allowing the audience to rest on their laurels. With both sexuality and sensuality dovetailing with hurt, pain and trauma. As memories collide and submerge both men into the fantasy and reality of childhood memory.
A Single Man (2009)
Based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel, Tom Fords 2009 film beautifully explores grief and the repression of emotion and sexuality. Following George Falconer (Colin Firth), a teacher at a Los Angeles college, unable to come to terms with his partner’s death. A Single Man exquisitely takes us on a journey into one mans past and present. Ford, moulding this journey into a symphony of emotion, isolation and reflection. The present offering hope and sexual liberation, while the past haunts every tentative step on the road to recovery.