claire of the moon

1998

Written and Directed by: Nicole Conn

Not so much a hallmark moment as a bump in the road towards good lesbian cinema, Claire of the Moon is one hour and forty seven minutes of pure hell.

Trite, poorly written, bad acting... all these things can be forgiven. It was a low budget film, dealing in subject matter that was highly controversial at the time. It should have been an important step forward in the history of lesbian cinema. Unfortunately Claire of the Moon commits the ultimate of all cinema sins. It's BORING.

Mind-numbingly so. And it isn't because this film deals with literary subjects, because watching Neil LaBute's Possession reveals that the literary can be sexy, subversive and interesting. There is such a thing as taking intellectualism too far, and this film crosses that line so many times that all traces of emotionalism are inexplicably wiped from the story. What's left is a discussion of sex and intimacy that is about as titallating as brushing your teeth.

Two couldn't-possibly-be-more-different women meet at a writers retreat meant to stimulate academic discussion about relationships, intimacy, homosexuality and communication within couples. The two women clash, each abhorrent of the other's lifestyle. Through a bizarrely clinical process they fall in love, and work their way down an emotional spiral until the glorious and blessed end. The characters lack depth, and with a screenplay that boils everything down to some kind of intellectual reasoning, they lack compassion and warmth as well.

Coupled with the bad writing and acting is the inadequate direction. Someone really needs to inform this director that setting a camera up on a beach does not necessarily mean that we'll just sit there and enjoy the scenery. There has to be reason and purpose behind each shot. The meaning needs to be inherent in picture as well as in words. You can spout on as long as you like about love and romance but if the images and mood of the piece don't reflect your themes what you have is a bunch of actors wandering around with a script desperately searching for cohesion.

Subject matter as important as lesbian relationships and human communication deserves better treatment than this. Claire of the Moon got its audience back in 1992 purely because it was a lesbian film and lesbians were so starved of images of themselves on screen that they were pretty much willing to watch anything. Now, with so many more important and relevant films out there, this film has been relegated to the annals of time and lesbian history. Hopefully it will stay there.

PS: If you disagree with me, and many women do I'm sure, Claire of the Moon is now available as a two-disc DVD set with lots of extra features so you can spend even more time with these women. God help us.

Got a comment? Write to me at nancyamazon@gmail.com