Every year at the gay and lesbian film festival I always find
that there's one low-budget film that seems to stand out in my
mind from the others. This year it was Intentions,
a low-low-low budget piece by debut feature director Luane Beck.
The story centres around Eve, a graduate student in drama who
is having difficulty finding her feet in acting again after the
death of her father. Her computer geek (and slightly unstable!)
girlfriend is hassling her to take up a less "risky"
career path and discourages her from ever setting foot on stage
Reneé, a drama teacher at the college and a married mother
of two, desperately wants Eve for her new play. She's seen her
work before and thinks Eve's participation will help them win
a play competition, even perhaps catapult Reneé into jobs
as a "real" director. She encourages Eve and finally
convinces her to take the role, even though Eve didn't show up
for auditions. Accepting the part causes friction between Eve
and her girlfriend and they finally break up, but the ex is the
type who won't take no for an answer...
As Reneé and Eve spend more and more time together they
discover how much they have in common. One night as Reneé
drops Eve home from another one of their after-rehearsal-coffee-date-chats,
Eve can't help herself and leans over and kisses her. A shocked
and stunned silence follows (at least on-screen, in the audience
people were howling and clapping). After some desperate backtracking
Eve leaves Reneé to wonder what the heck just happened
and "Am I really a lesbian trapped in the life of a straight
mother of two?"
One thing leads to another and finally the two women do get together,
much to the dismay of Renee's husband who walks in on them having
sex on the floor, IN HER OWN HOUSE! (Cue more howling and laughter
from the audience) I mean, how stupid would you have to be? Eve's
apartment would have been a far safer option, but whatever, the
story must go on.
And go on it does, but I won't spoil the third act. Needless
to say it does have a happy ending of sorts and lots of things
to say about relationships, both gay and straight. Both women
have some growing to do and some messes to sort out, and they
find that as much as they love each other it is difficult to do
that growing together. Eve is practically being stalked by her
insane ex-girlfriend (it was like a pantomime, every time she
appeared on screen the audience would boo and yell variations
on "look behind you!") and needs to take control of
her life. Her spine is so soft you just feel like running into
the film and slapping her senseless at times. But on the other
hand, I figure if I didn't care about the characters I wouldn't
feel so emotional towards the film.
It's a shame though that with indie productions you find yourself
always having to get past certain things in order to enjoy the
movie and what it has to say. We have to accept that it's expensive
to hire very good actors, so while the leads might be well cast
and carry the film admirably, the back-up cast is probably made
up of someone's uncle who dabbles in acting, or the neighbours
kids who looked cute enough to stand in the background. Intentions
does suffer from amateur acting syndrome, but the performances
are good enough not to overly distract once you get hooked into
Another thing we must overlook is that the production values,
while not appalling, are far from good. Sound and lighting are
the two principal areas that suffer in this film; the sound is
erratic and whenever characters are in dark places they really
disappear into shadow (and no, I'm not referring to the artfully
silhouetted sex scene which was obviously meant to be obscured).
While a chiaroscuro effect can sometimes enhance the meaning of
an artful scene, somehow in this instance I really don't think
it was intentional. Some shots take place in locations that are
generally dark: theatres, nightclubs and the like, but the director
still needs to ensure that while we know the characters are sitting
in a dark room we can still see their faces and expressions.
Both lead actresses (Deidre Kotch as Eve and Katherine Lee as
Reneé) deserve praise for the kind of passion and chemistry
they were able to inject into the film. The best compliment I
can give Katherine Lee is that she reminded me often of a younger
Susanna Thompson (ST:DS9
and Once and Again)
in looks, acting style and mannerisms. Deidre Kotch is a BABE
of the highest order, her picture on IMDb.com
does not do her justice, so don't bother looking it up. So there's
plenty of eye-candy here for those of us who care about that kind
of thing - and I'll freely admit that easy-on-the-eyes leads certainly
don't hinder the cinematic experience for me. The occasional cool
song on the soundtrack (including a track by Amy Ray) certainly
didn't hurt either.
Intentions was definitely one of the highlights
on the festival circuit in a year where the lesbian pickings were
depressingly meagre, and it has since held up to repeated viewings.
It is the chance of encountering little films like this that keep
me coming back to the gay and lesbian film festivals year after
year. I sincerely hope that this writer/director uses her experiences
on Intentions to keep on making lesbian features
and goes on to bigger and better things.
Got a comment? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org