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American Independents, Films by women

BIFF 1: And Then Came Lola (US 2009)

The poster shows Ashleigh Sumner (left, as Lola) and Jill Bennett (right, as Casey). Sandwiched between them is Cathy DeBuono (as Danielle). This poster was taken off the company’s Facebook site as too provocative in its display (see the film’s website)

The blurb on this film’s website announces it as: [a] “time-bending, sexy, lesbian romp, with an irreverent nod to the popular art-house classic Run, Lola, Run“. A pretty good description really. Lola (Ashleigh Sumner) is a photographer who has virtually no time left to deliver a set of prints to save her current partner Casey (Jill Bennett) from losing a design contract. The film shows three of Lola’s attempts to get across San Francisco, find the prints and deliver them to Casey at a bar where she is entertaining her client Danielle. In the process we learn about Lola’s love life and her circle and explore a range of sexy scenarios.

Clearly I’m not the target audience for the film, but judging from the laughter at the back of the cinema it was being understood and enjoyed by those who are. I’ve reviewed a number of lesbian features over the last couple of years and most of them haven’t offered any particular problems to straight male viewers. But I confess to being a little more wary of this one. Certainly the film is well shot and edited. It’s pacy and fun with good animation inserts and a strong soundtrack, some of which I quite liked (again it’s not my style of music). I gather that most of the cast and crew are ‘out’ and I wonder how to react to that in terms of American film and TV (it seems to be a big deal still). My problem is that while the lead actor, Ashley Sumner, came across simply as a strong performer with real screen presence, most of the other actors seemed to be playing lesbian ‘types’ and since I’m not exactly au fait with the nuances of lesbian iconography I’m not sure what to make of their performances. I guess I was a little put off by the characters of Casey and Danielle who seemed too close to the buffed types found in the ‘erotic thrillers’ that end up cut on cable TV.

(L-R) Co-Director Ellen Seidler, Ashleigh Sumner (LOLA), and Co-Director Megan Siler at OUTFEST 2009. (Taken from the film’s website)

The festival programme notes suggested that this ‘lighter’ play with the Lola rennt idea was more successful and more enjoyable than the original. I’m not sure about that. I liked Lola rennt a lot at the time (in 1998), but it was very much a film of its time, hugely important in re-introducing German Cinema to an international audience and offering a kind of pomo romp when that meant something. Choosing to parody it in 2009 seems simply a tongue in cheek gesture – a playful nod to all those porn re-workings of famous Hollywood titles perhaps? (The filmmakers, Ellen Seidler and Megan Siler claim Lola rennt as one of their favourite films.)  One of the bonuses of the film is that like the original and its scenes of Berlin, here we get to see bits of San Francisco – a city almost entirely populated by lesbians and gay men in the imagination of the filmmakers.

These lesbian films are destined for a life primarily on DVD and VOD and this one has been picked up for UK distribution by Peccadillo Pictures. It may have some more festival screenings in the UK, but the DVD is due out on May 24th. Well worth a look I think and the website is very good.

Discussion

One thought on “BIFF 1: And Then Came Lola (US 2009)

  1. And Then Came Lola was pretty good. One of those lesbian interest movies that is truly about lesbians. Funny too.

    Posted by Mofole | May 9, 2010, 15:57

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