claire of the moon
Written and Directed: Nicole Conn
Not so much a hallmark moment as a bump in the cinematic road, Claire of the Moon is one hour and forty seven minutes of pure hell. At least it was for me.
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 really boring.
And it isn't because this film deals with literary subjects, because watching something like 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 that all traces of emotion 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.
The direction is lacklustre. The mere act of setting a camera up on a beach does not necessarily mean that we'll just sit there and enjoy the romantic 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 clanging, emotionally-bereft mess.
This is important subject matter and it deserves better treatment. Claire of the Moon got its audience back in 1992 purely because it was a lesbian film and lesbians were so starved for representation 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 people really do, Claire of the Moon is available as a two-disc DVD set with lots of extra features so you can spend even more time with these women. Wow.