Written and Directed: Luane Beck
Every year I always find that there's one low-budget film playing in the festivals that seems to stand out from the others. This year it was Intentions, a low-low-low budget piece by debut feature director Luane Beck.
Eve is a graduate student in drama who is having difficulty finding her feet 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 can help them win a play competition, perhaps catapulting Reneé into jobs as a "real" director. She finally convinces Eve 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 break up, but the ex is the type who won't take no for an answer.
As Reneé and Eve spend more time together they discover how much they have in common. One night after another of their after-rehearsal-coffee-date-chats, Eve can't help herself and leans over and kisses Renee. A stunned silence follows (at least on-screen, in the cinema audience people were clapping). After some desperate backtracking, Eve leaves Reneé to wonder what the heck just happened and "Am I really a lesbian trapped in the body 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 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. It does have a happy ending of sorts and says a lot of deep things 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 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.
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. We have to accept that it's expensive to hire very good actors, so while the leads might be well cast, Intentions suffers 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; the sound is erratic and whenever characters are in dark places they really disappear into shadow. While a chiaroscuro effect can sometimes enhance an arty scene, in this instnce I really don't think it was intentional. Many shots take place in locations that are generally dark: theatres, nightclubs and the like, but the director still needs to ensure that we can still see their faces and expressions.
Both leads (Deidre Kotch as Eve and Katherine Lee as Reneé) deserve praise for the chemistry they were able to generate. Deidre Kotch is a BABE of the highest order, 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 the 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 in a year where the lesbian pickings were depressingly meagre, and it has held up to repeated viewings. It is the chance of encountering little films like this that keep me coming back to the film festivals year after year. I sincerely hope that this writer/director uses her experiences on Intentions to keep on making features and goes on to bigger things.