If these walls could talk 2 (2000)

(Trying to find a trailer for this movie appears to have alluded me for the time being, if I find one I will put in the link.)

A three part film, (1. Loss 2. New beginning/removing prejudices and assumptions and 3. Starting a family) or in essence three collected shorts, set in three different decades with three different sets of characters and couples, all set in the same house. (Perhaps that particular house just gives off some sort of gay vibes to prospective tenants…I am of course presuming that there is another reason besides cheaper to film in one location and have it be the only thing connecting the triptych barring lesbian tendency’s, silly me).

The Three films are treated as separate entities in that there are actors/writers/directors for each part, rather than one set for the piece as a whole. In my opinion, this adds to the realism and believability of each story as they are all dealt with in a different way, and this also separates the stories into individual plots very clearly.

1960’s – Vanessa Redgrave, Elizabeth Perkins (9/10)

I think that this is quite possibly the most heart-wrenching piece of lesbian cinema (FGT and Aimee und Jaguar are two other strong contenders) I may have seen. The sheer injustice and overall feeling of futility and sadly (for one continues to wish that the idea really was only fictional) the knowledge of its truth comes through powerfully whilst watching Redgrave’s character try to adjust.

Abby and Edith (Redgrave) live together, and have done so since they were young women. They have forged a nice quite and settled life for themselves, only to have it forcibly wrenched out from beneath them and torn asunder after Abby has a stroke whilst out feeding the birds, and dies. Not only is Edith forgotten about at the hospital and never gets to see her partner, she then has to tell Abby’s family and act as if they were never even together in the first place, they were simply that old cliché of “room-mates”.

Watching her demolish their bedroom into two separate ones is nothing short of awful, she seems so resigned to this version of events of putting on this façade, all for the sake of a family who never even knew Abby.

Incidentally, Elizabeth Perkins plays the arrogant, gold digging witch to polite, inconsiderate perfection.

In the end Edith is left with nothing. She has no legal rights, no human rights almost. Abby’s family calmly and effectively trample over everything that the two ladies have built between them.

By the end of the film you could cry from the sheer injustice and frustration and futility of her plight, for her solitude in her loss, for the lack of any understanding. Never once is she treated as the grieving widow, or even as a long-time friend. Her relationship with Abby, on any level, is completely ignored by the family.

Of all of the three parts, this is the one that I felt dealt most thoroughly and effectively with its subject, and left you with a feeling of wanting more; mostly about the two women before, when they were younger, and also about Edith after the events of the film.

1970’s – Chloe Sevigny, Michelle Williams, Amy Carlson and Nia Long (9/10)

This part comes firmly under ‘favourite’ in my book, but I do not particularly thing that it is the best… that accolade would go the first part. It pleased me to see that their was no major ‘coming-out’ saga, which has been to done to death for the most part, and is rapidly losing it’s charm as a major theme or plotline, unless dealt with in a pretty spectacular way…I think it’s my age, anyway I digress.

This part tries to deal with multiple themes; ideas of gender, self identity, appearances, lesbianism, feminism and acceptance. Generally it makes a very good attempt, but ultimately I feel that it is trying to cover far too much complex ground in too short a time in order to do justice to any or all of the issues at hand. However, if it was continued in a full length feature, there is a strong likelihood that that could be accomplished, if judging from the evidence given of the writers and actors. It has the makings of an excellent feature film, though I am very happy to settle with this short.

However, that minor gripe aside, the idea of identity and acceptance is explored well between the leads, especially given the limitations of time. Linda (Williams) accepts Amy (Sevigny) for who she is and how she appears, which, given the conflict and pressure (read: assumptions/ignorance/fear) coming from Linda’s lesbian housemates, is a pretty big accomplishment on Linda’s part, even if initially she may seem a little hesitant.

It may appear that I don’t like this segment, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I like that Amy is who she is, and refuses to compromise or be anything else just because of people’s opinions, after all she is the one who has to live with herself and her decisions. I like that Linda is able to think independently of her friends, who like to think that they are progressive and for women’s/people’s rights, when really, they are, ironically, just as bad as the straight population they are ‘fighting’ against.

Finally, I like that they get an actual happy ending without either of them having to change who they are or what they believe in to get it.

2000 – Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Stone (6/10)

I have to admit that this is my least favourite part, and indeed I often just stop the DVD after the second part and don’t bother watching it. My main conclusion from watching it is that you should never let lesbians loose with a turkey baster… inevitably they will then want to propagate the species and will set about doing so immediately after the U-Haul incident… at least in the celluloid version of lesbian life

Don’t get me wrong, before I get royally yelled at, I should clarify that I am all for lesbian parenting and the right and desires to do so, I just don’t see why 80% of lesbian storylines have to be about parenting… is this a lesbian or a women thing? That we are only good for, or interested in, procreating? Surely it isn’t the only thing that we think of… I know I certainly don’t. To give this film credit, at the time of its release, it wasn’t quite as prominent a feature as it is now in lesbian cinema/television, so I am more forgiving of this trivial annoyance.

The over-acting/exuberance of Sharon Stone (and in part DeGeneres) was marginally painful to watch and almost caused my eyeballs to bleed, though every so often she surprised me and pulled out a really empathic moment you could understand and believe.

I feel that any good film shouldn’t make you cringe with alarming regularity.

There are moments that are brilliant; their sheer joy when they actually get pregnant seems so genuine and heartfelt that you want to celebrate with them, despite all the things I said earlier about wishing procreating wasn’t the only focus. Also when they are sitting on their car and watching the kids in the playground. If only more parts of this section of the film could have been like that, I think I’d feel less inclined to switch the DVD off without watching this segment.

7/10 overall, for a mostly wonderful film, but the low points are things to consider when thinking of the film as a whole.


About Nerdsbian

I am a nerd for ALL seasons. Ravenclaw...natch. I am a genderqueer Librarian who unsurprisingly likes reading...a lot. But I also love being outside too...sometimes even reading at the same time. Also animals, any and all of them. Never yet met one that didn't get on with me and vice versa. I do a couple of different voluntary jobs (animal charity related), I am a Brownie Leader and have recently completed my MA.
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