Dir. Leá Pool
Piper Perabo, Mischa Barton and Jessica Paré
This is not your happy ending type of film. Based, rather loosely, on the book “The Wives of Bath” by Susan Swan and set in a girl’s boarding school, it is told from the point of view of “Mouse” (Barton) who joins the school at the behest of her father and his new wife, her mother having died not long before. She ends up sharing a room with Paulie (Perabo) and Tori (Paré), who she eventually realises, are a couple. In the beginning she is uncertain whether or not they even know that she knows about them, or whether or not they care for that matter.
Paulie is the rebel, somewhat untypical in her life approach whilst Tori yearns to fit in with her mothers wishes at the cost of her own, she loves Paulie, but eventually she can’t cope with the potential reaction of her mother, she never gives her the chance to find out. Tori’s sister catches them in bed one morning and Tori in her haste and panic, unceremoniously severs her relationship with Paulie, and effectively their friendship as well.
Paulie’s entire world revolved around Tori. She was abandoned when she was a newborn and put up for adoption, and when Tori reluctantly discards her, she starts to unravel in a rather spectacular fashion, played exceptionally well by Perabo, her spiral of destruction is rapid and on a one way course.
It emerges that most people knew about Paulie and Tori anyway, Tori blanks her former lover and dates some random friend of her brothers from the neighbouring boy’s school. Paulie is broken beyond repair and tries with all her being to convince Tori that what they were doing was alright and that others will accept their relationship. Tori refuses to listen and Paulie, in her desperation, eventually kills herself, by leaping off the top of the school building.
Tori’s reaction, or lack of one is curious given the extent of their previous relationship and the fact that it is fairly obvious that Tori is finding it hard to keep pushing Paulie away.
In general, the film overuses the Shakespeare, fencing and bird metaphors, almost to the point where you just wish the whole thing would be over… almost. From the time just after Tori leaves Paulie it is reasonably clear how this film is going to end, particularly given Paulie’s destructive curve.
Overall this film is a tad too artsy/indie. Clever and very well-acted, especially by Barton and Perabo, and despite the ending well worth watching, there is even a head teacher/ teacher relationship rather subtly hinted at. Occasionally it tries that little bit too hard to be ‘clever’ and artsy, but generally just manages to stay a way from that.
7/10 for the acting, visuals and emotional rollercoaster, minus a few points for over extensive use of metaphors and an unhappy ending, because what the lesbian community really needs are more films with unhappy endings.