When you normally think about lesbian films, what pops into your head? Something horrible no doubt. Ok. Ok I agree not ALL lesbian films are bad, there are the occasional diamonds in the rough. You know one when you see it -- those well written, dangerously funny, pang at your little gay heart-strings, lesbian films. The ones that hit a bit harder and touch a different place in your lady loving little heart. My girlfriend said something so interesting to me the other day. She said, "I want to see "When Harry Met Sally" done with two women"
I’ve been thinking about that ever since. In fact, I can't stop replaying the phrase in my head. Not many lesbian films are about daily life. So many lesbian films are still about coming out or about women who are in love but someone or something is keeping them from being together. While these stories are an important part of all of our history, the lesbian community is itching for something new, something grounded, something well done and relatable.
Enter: Heartland, A charming story about a lesbian from Oklahoma whose girlfriend dies. She finds herself back in her small hometown trying to find solace at her mother's house, where being gay is tolerated, but not accepted. She then finds comfort in an affair with her brother’s girlfriend. I know you may be thing thinking, “Another lesbian film where a gay girl falls in love with a straight woman…” But in "Heartland " it's different...I promise. The lead characters embark on emotional journeys that are nearly impossible to do alone. They find what they need in each other and give back exactly what they want in the moment. It's not only about sex, although the steamy love scene doesn't hurt. Their story is about a deeper connection than just the physical.
For those of you who aren’t fans of the open-ended, cliffhanger of a narrative, Heartland features an ending that is just so right. In all, it’s a well-told story about regular people doing regular things, in everyday life. The film is down-to-earth and sincere.
The film, written by Velinda Godfrey and Todd Waring, reflects a shift in the kinds of stories we’re beginning to tell in the lesbian community. What is that shift? For decades lesbian-themed films were about the struggle to come out (and for a good reason since there was so little acceptance and representation). At the time, those stories were brave and daring.
These days, I lesbian films are beginning to reflect where we are today and taking a turn a more powerful direction. While it seems obvious, that turn is just what my girlfriend was talking about – telling stories about real people, in real scenarios, living real life, who just happen to be gay.
Don't worry ladies that still love the old school lesbian stories, Heartland also touches on a bit of the older sentiment as well, it's set in Oklahoma, as you can imagine times have changed a great deal since our lesbian sisters were living there in the past. In fact, I was just at the Oklahoma state fair, and I saw more lesbians than at Lilith Fair. But, that's another story for another time. Still, there are families from small towns who can't get on the gay bandwagon, so it’s important that films still address this as an issue. In Heartland, the old world mentality is reflected in thecharacter’s mom Crystal, who isn’t an outright hater but who never acknowledges her daughter’s sexuality, or her girlfriend. The combination of what I'm calling "New World' and "Old World" gay is flawless in Heartland.
Something else I like about this film: It's written and directed by WOMEN! Heartland has a great gay character (Some great straight ones too), a lesbian story line, written by a lesbian writer and directed by a woman, is there a reason not to be interested?