Film Review: New Lez Film "Bloomington" Premieres at Frameline Next Week

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Film Review: New Lez Film "Bloomington" Premieres at Frameline Next Week

Bloomington, directed by Fernanda Cardoso, begins with Jackie Kirk (Sarah Stouffer) packing for her first year of college. We learn that Jackie is a former child star trying to fit in with the wide-eyed collegiate types who cannot get over her celebrity-status. Almost immediately she meets Professor Catherine Stark (Allison McAtee), a young, sexy psychology professor with a reputation for bedding female undergrads. After a few stolen glances and a single conversation (15 minutes into the movie!) the two crawl between Catherine’s sheets. After the requisite scenes of sex and laughing and cooking together and reveling in all the fun they are having, they fall in love/lust. After being offered a role in the movie version of her hit TV show, Jackie eventually decides to return to her acting career, comprising their relationship.

Watching lesbian movies is like having your girlfriend cook you dinner. No matter what it tastes like you are going to love it because you know how much care and effort she put into it. However, there is the definite possibility that the quinoa and beet concoction she just whipped up is going to be pretty awful. The thing is, every once in a while it isn’t half bad, which makes you love her even more. This is how I feel about lesbian movies. I watch them constantly and pray that I don’t have to cover my eyes for another embarrassing round of boring plot lines, terrible acting and an endless loop of the one Ani Difranco song the producers could get the rights to. (On a side note, can we as a community PLEASE stop it with the Ani Difranco soundtrack for sex scenes? Seriously. It’s been in so many movies that I get turned on every time I hear “32 Flavors,” like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I'm over it.)

Let the lesbian intensity begin!

Fortunately, Bloomington is a pleasant surprise. It is well-acted by Stouffer and McAtee, who manage to avoid the usual maudlin posturing of lesbian cinema. Moreover, the characters themselves are not one-dimensional caricatures, and they evolve over the course of the story. We become more and more invested watching the characters respond to their circumstances. As their relationship finds its shape, the film explores the shifting power dynamics that arise when two people come together.

Jackie tromps around campus in jeans, tees and a sporty backpack, while Stark perpetually looks like your “hot for teacher” fantasy in pencil skirts, paired with a bun that is begging to be shaken out during a striptease in front of a chalkboard. The actresses have actual chemistry, and look like people you would see on an episode of Degrassi or some other teen melodrama, which works if you like teen melodrama as much as I do.

One of the other redeeming qualities of this movie is that Jackie looks so much younger than Catherine that it becomes quietly kinky and pretty sexy. In one scene, Jackie recites lines from the sci-fi show she starred in in her youth as foreplay, and Catherine gets turned on. Catherine has sex with Jackie in a library, sliding her up on a table, daring her to be quiet. She calls Jackie a “good girl” when cooperative in bed, and even cuts Jackie’s food. All of these things come together to make for your favorite kind of teacher/ student fantasy makes Bloomington hot and worth watching.

Bloomington has its troubles. The script can be clichéd at moments and predictable. It unravels slightly at the end. We follow Jackie’s career and then we see Catherine’s career unraveling as the film becomes slightly aimless and disjointed. Was Catherine fired because she was sleeping with girls or students in general? Is Jackie upset because she loses Catherine, or because she has to be a closeted Hollywood lesbian? The conclusion is a little muddy, but Bloomington is a thoughtful, well-made lesbian movie in the vein of Loving Annabelle. It’s one of those pretty good meals you won’t have to lie to your girlfriend about liking.

 

Bloomington will have its World Premiere at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 23rd. It will screen in Los Angeles at Outfest on July 10th, at Philadelphia Q Fest July 17 and 18th, and at Vancouver and North Carolina Queer Film Fests in August. You can view the trailer here.

Over the next month, Vp's film stud Sophia will review selections from this year's film festival circuit.

 



Comments [19]

Diana Cage's picture

loving loving Vp's film

loving loving Vp's film reviews today. Haute.

buggleM's picture

hey this new VP member can

stole all women here .....what a classy  dude.

 regarding your pic assessment  I like it , I almost forgot my gf because I remember my ex flame style like  were rolling by the carpet[ oopss]

BuggleM the dmd

KL's picture

who is this hunky new film critic?

and can you tell me where she lives? i want more. tell her to write more. also: i undercook quinoa on the regs.

Lots of love.

Keeli M's picture

yes, yes, YES!!

agreed.

blow up my ego @lvrandafighter

Grace Moon's picture

i like it

nothing makes me hotter for lesbian sex than quinoa and beets.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

minniesota's picture

Must avoid teach/student fantasy

I might be more excited about the premise of this film but I just finished reviewing the University's employe manual and specifically the section about consensual relationships that would be inappropriate/unethical due to isses of trust, respect and power relationships. Gulp.

Laughing about your complaint to stop already with the Ani DiFranco sound tracks...

 

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Lake's picture

I'm getting.....

The older woman....younger woman vibe!!!

Suckers me in everytime!!!!! Wink

Lake

SMBrown's picture

Minnie, do you think many

Minnie, do you think many male profs (straight or gay) bother to read that section of the manual?

minniesota's picture

Dunno

Not sure. I needed to review the entire employee manual because I'm in a new position and have some new  authorities now. Anyhow, that section of the employee manual was interesting!

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Rusty's picture

pass

Minnie, I stopped reading the review here:

"she meets Professor Catherine Stark (Allison McAtee), a young, sexy psychology professor with a reputation for bedding female undergrads."

Lesbians who bed students (grad or undergrad) are no hotter or less reprehensible than straight guys who do it.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

SMBrown's picture

Well...

I generally feel the way you do Rusty (though not about grad students--as long as the prof isn't that particular student's teacher), but I kept reading anyway and came upon this:

As their relationship finds its shape, the film explores the shifting power dynamics that arise when two people come together.

If the power differential is acknowledged and then turned upside down I might be willing to give the filmmaker a bit more latitude. 


Not2Taem's picture

Pencils and things

When I read the review I had a flash of Prof C in that pencil skirt. Just about fell out of my chair.   Laughing out loud

Prof C's picture

DYING

DYING

Not2Taem's picture

Does this mean you won't be modeling it for us?

Innocent

Diana Cage's picture

She does have nice gams

She does have nice gams

geek4grammar's picture

nice!

love your analogy-- lezzie films are like having your girlfriend make you dinner! (unless your girlfriend was me, cause I'm an awesome cook, heheh...) and they did quite a nice job (in the trailer, at least) making indiana seem all sexy and european. thanks, mr. italian director man.

so when will this little gem be hitting nyc? did I already miss it @ newfest?

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Prof C's picture

cracking up about: "they did

cracking up about: "they did quite a nice job (in the trailer, at least) making indiana seem all sexy and european"

but i must correct and say that this film is directed by a woman!

geek4grammar's picture

yeah, I noticed that after I posted...

...serves me right for skimming the credits! thanx for making note, prof ;p

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Prof C's picture

that's where i went to college!!!

you use all of my favorite phrases here: "stolen glances," "maudlin postering," and "movie version of her hit TV show"...

Welcome to Vp, film stud!