f to the Y to the I - Thank Goodness for Festive
Lisa Marie: Let your Cagney & Lacey fantasies fly as you delve into Sharon Gless in Hannah Free, a feature film about the lifelong love affair between an independent spirit and the woman she calls home. If only the handcuffs could make their way into this lesbian film.
Directed by Wendy Jo Carlton, the movie is based on Claudia Allen’s popular play by the same name. The story begins with Hannah, an elderly Gless, in a nursing home where she is forbidden from seeing the love of her life, Rachel (Maureen Gallagher), who is in a coma. With Hannah, a free-spirited butch, and Rachel, who marries a man and becomes a homemaker, the story flashes between past and present to share how the women feel in love and lived their relationship.
Gless carries the film with her presence and skill. Her wit flows naturally. The scenes, the sets, the dialogue all seem built around her presence.
Kelly Reed: Yes, Gless is fun to watch as Hannah. She grumbles and rolls her eyes and acts cranky and cute. She’s … dykey and pissed at the attempts to Christianize, heterosexualize and ostracize her in the nursing home. She’s unapologetic about who she is and how she loves.
The film’s cinematography has a Midwest prettiness … barns and such. Nice balance to Hannah’s grumpiness.
However, pastures and Gless’ attitude don’t make up for the dismal supporting cast. Stilted dialogue and poor acting made this film seem more fit for theater than the big screen (yes, that’s a dig on bad theater).
I really think it could have been vastly different with better casting. When Gless is off-screen, it’s boring. There’s no chemistry between anyone, which leaves the story to stand on its own. And it just stands there. Just like that.
The relationship between Rachel and Hannah just is. Rachel is afraid to come out and marries a man who dies later. Young Hannah, who sort of looks like Gary Busey, ventures out of the Midwest to travel the world, returning throughout Rachel’s homemaker life for a quick kiss and some muffins. Later in life, they live together, gardening and fussing in a peaceful Rachel kind of way, while Hannah harbors her desires to go fishing and mountain climbing. “I need life to surprise me,” Hannah says to Rachel in one of the flashbacks.
By this time, I needed this film to have some life.
That said, there is certainly an audience for this film. Most lesbians are so hungry for something that remotely resembles their lives that they will flock to this, cry at the end, buy it and watch it early Saturday mornings when it’s cold outside. Drinking cocoa in flannel jammies.
It’s no L Word, so don’t be worried about watching with one of your straight friends. You could bring your grandma to this film.
Lisa Marie Evans (www.lisamarieart.com) is a filmmaker and artist, and Kelly Reed is a creative writer and art collector. Together they enjoy the sexy, finer things in life, such as travel, food, art, adventure and women. In their column, Lisa Marie and Kelly wish to share with the LGBT community what they find out about the ways to enjoy and appreciate life.