Lisa Cholodenko, in an ambitious feature film debut, has written a screenplay that doesn't just show her characters and their lives, it also examines them, meticulously, pointing out every flaw, every weakness, every strength, every misstep. Our voyeuristic tendencies are fed generously as we're shown a slice of life that is both fascinating and horrible to watch.
Most fans recognise that the importance of the Xena/Gabrielle relationship lay in the love and loyalty between the two companions, not in their sexual relationship. It was a show that emphasised the friendship and bonds that exist between women. It was better, I think, for people to be allowed to make up their own minds as to the extent of those bonds, despite how much subtext fans (myself included) cherished those rare overtly-romantic moments that did exist.
Shot gloriously, costumed perfectly, filmed through half-opened doors and in mirrors, down from windows and up from the ground, swirling sometimes like a kite through the air until we land harshly on the cold ground, Haynes has produced a masterpiece world for his masterful actresses to play in. This is a sleek, bold, mesmerising look at the nature of love.
Films that embrace the lesbian teenage experience without condescension are rare, and so very necessary. Sure, we've proven that as a society we can ridicule and satirise our teenagers (both gay and straight) and their real and perceived angst, but seldom does a film come along that is sweet without being saccharine and real without being preachy. Fucking Åmål is all this and more.
There comes a time in the evolution of a film genre when you feel like the tides are turning. It was about time that lesbian films made the shift from the entirely self-aware exploration of sexuality into real storytelling, concentrating on the experiences gay women have, rather than just on the experience of being gay.
The storyline for All Over Me might be above and beyond anything that most teenagers experience but the fundamental emotional responses the main characters have to their situations are so universal that the film still feels relevant years after its release. This is an important, totally underrated lesbian film, which is not bad for a film where the word "lesbian" is not once uttered.
Treading on a little well-trodden, romantic comedy genre ground doesn’t at all diminish the originality and freshness of this film. First-time director Alice Wu has given us a funny, touching exploration of being gay against the background of the Chinese community, with a cast that live and breathe these characters. See it now.