intentions

2003

Written and Directed by: Luane Beck

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 again.

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 the story.

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 nancyamazon@gmail.com