Dir. Leá Pool
Piper Perabo, Mischa Barton and Jessica Paré
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 the film begins. 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 as to whether they even know that she knows about them, or if it simply that they do not care.
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 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. (This is not a happy ending type of film)
It emerges that most people already knew about Paulie and Tori. Tori blanks her former lover and dates some random friend of her brothers from the neighbouring boy’s school, in order to alleviate any suspicions. 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 obvious that Tori is finding it hard to keep pushing Paulie away.
In general, the film overuses the Shakespeare, fencing and bird metaphors somewhat, almost to the point where you 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. To be fair however, the book it is based upon suffers from similar issues of overt cleverness.
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 needs are more films with an unhappy ending.