Latest On Outvoices
Rarely are the words, “I’m bi,” heard. Whether on TV, film or even from friends and family, it’s almost nonexistent. Coming out as gay is thought to be brave; a pivotal moment in someone’s life. Coming out as bi, however, is often met with rolled eyes, being viewed as a sexual object, and even with the chant, “Bi now, gay later.” Being bisexual isn’t heralded as brave: it is often treated as if it isn’t even a real thing!
Many well-known blogs have used the purple analogy to explain bisexuality. Purple is known as its own color and not half red, half blue. There are even several shades of purple, some with more red or some with more blue. The same exists in bisexuality, where attraction can be fluid. Some can be hetero- or homo-romantic (meaning that when it comes to establishing romantic relationships they are primarily attracted to members of the opposite sex, or same-sex, respectively) but do enjoy physical, sexual contact with someone of different sex than their partner. Some can be polyamorous and even cohabitate with both sexes. And others decide on their romantic and sexual partners freely, a person to person decision based on what about the individual might tickles their fancy.
Understanding bisexualityPhoto by Isi Parente on Unsplash
While bisexuality, on the surface, should be welcomed as yet another beautiful way of living—loving hearts and not parts, if you will—bisexuality is often viewed in a not so great light or simply swept under the rug by both the straight and broader lesbian and gay communities.
I asked men and women who identify as bisexual to help us take a look at what it means to be a shade of purple in the big world of pink and blue. It should be noted, and of some concern, that most did not want to be identified by full name, or to use a photograph, in order to avoid judgment from one community, the other, or both, or even because of the risk of losing their jobs and family.
Sorting through the responses to our questions on bisexuality, early feelings of attraction for both sexes was a common theme. Most relate it to the same feelings as straight or gay people face. “I’ve known I was bisexual since I was very little,” Emma Frye stated. “I realized I was not attracted solely to one sex as early as I understood attraction. Most people know they’re straight or gay early in life; I was the same with bisexuality”
Some state that they did not recognize their feelings as bisexual, or perhaps did not know there was a name for it, like Lish Rodriquez: “I didn’t know about bisexuality—I just knew that I liked those people. As I grew older and the media picked up more stories about homosexuality and the AIDS/HIV epidemic, it gave me the word ‘bisexual’ to identify with.”
What comes up also, is the difference in fluidity. The majority of respondents were in an opposite-sex marriage and thus present outwardly to the wider world as heterosexual. Out of those people, many refer to themselves as “swingers.” This is a way for them to explore their bisexuality, with or without their spouses’ involvement, while keeping their marriage and families intact.
Taking the “B” out of “LGBT”
Despite its banner of open acceptance, there is a great deal of questioning in the wider lesbian and gay community about the status of the “B,” and just as some have called for the expulsion of the transgender community from LGBT, others are calling for the removal of the “B”.
One Tumblr blog, “Unpopular Opinions,” states, “I think we should take the B out of LGBT. Bisexuals have it way better than most of us in the queer community. They have straight privilege and ride on the coattails of the gay community.”
Turns out, that just as in the transgender community some agree for very different reasons, some bisexuals likewise argue that this just might be a good idea. Recently a YouTuber known as BisexualRealTalk called for the “B” to be taken out of “LGBT.” He concluded that a bisexual looking for support in the LGBT community was ultimately going to have more questions, be left with a greater sense of uncertainty, and come away with a deeper sense of being alone. “Expectation kills,” he says. “The LGBT community is not our friend”
In fact, a major Canadian study published by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in 2010 called “Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations,” found bisexual men are 6.3 times more likely, and bisexual women 5.9 times more likely, to report having been suicidal than heterosexual people. Bisexuals are also 3-5 times more likely to feel suicidal than gay men and lesbians.
The majority of those we surveyed also felt discrimination from the LGBT community. Rae Schomburg-Hall states, “I receive scorn from most lesbians as they feel I should ‘pick a side’ and I must just need to ‘make up my mind.’” She feels she is seen as “a confused individual. An oversexed person, just looking for fulfillment. Not to be trusted. An interloper. This, coming from a community that heralds inclusion and acceptance is just…just…wrong.”
Views and Perceptions About Bisexuals
Reading through blogs and articles mentioning bisexuality, it doesn’t take long to find the words "greedy," “whore,” or “slut” being heaped upon bisexuals individually or as a group. The belief that bisexuals, regardless of the evidence, aren’t actually, or can’t be, monogamous is another common attitude.
“There are definitely people who think being bisexual means the exact opposite of monogamous, which is kind of hilarious” answers one of our participants. “I think people's sexuality is so personal, and it varies from person to person. Not all of us sleep with everyone, just because we can, although I have had close friends say that I was a whore or a slut because I dated both ‘sides’ from my pool of friends as a young adult.”
R.J. Aquiar, YouTube’s “NotAdam,” has a series he calls “Ask a Bi Guy,” where he addresses many of the perceptions and attempts to use his personal experience to change the attitudes on bisexuality. In response to our questions, he wrote, “There are still so many people out there who can't accept our identity as valid. They're so adamant about sticking to their existing world view, so they'll look for any reason to dismiss us rather than accept this new information that might require them to change their world view. That doesn't necessarily make them bad people, since it's human nature to do that. And it's even more understandable when you look at how much society enforces that gay/straight binary. Most people would, for instance, refer to a male/male or female/female couple as a ‘gay couple’ rather than a ‘same-sex couple’ while a male/female couple is most often referred to as a ‘straight couple’. If you know what to look for, there's bi-erasure all over the place. This can make it really difficult for a bi person to consider coming out since it means having to face all of that adversity head on.”
Men vs Women
Attitudes men versus women concerning bisexuality certainly differ. It is often said that women have it “easier” being bi. The acceptance of a bisexual woman actually involves oversexualizing her. When a woman says she is bi, many men would jump at what they think is a sure-fire way into a threesome. Very rarely is she viewed as a potential monogamous partner.
And if she comes out to a potential same-sex partner? She is often not taken seriously. There is a fear she will want to return to a heterosexual fantasy of husbands, children, and white picket fences in the suburbs. After all, bisexuals are always viewed as having the potential for passing in straight society as an option. One lesbian told us “I’m scared I’ll be hurt by bisexual women, so I won’t mess with them at all”.
Bisexual men do face a different demon, and because of it, very few men will ever come out as bi. Cooper S Beckett—author of “My Life on the Swingset” and “A Life Less Monogamous”—offers personal insight on this. There is “the immediate assumption that I was gay and kidding myself. I've been told it was a phase as well. Straight men don't like bi men, because they're afraid of another man coming along and treating them the way they've traditionally treated women, as someone you could cajole into doing something. They're worried about being cajoled into ‘gay sex.’ I've been told to my face by a gay man that I'm not bi, I'm just on the road to gay town. It's shocking and sad. But I think acceptance is growing.”
Finding a Tribe
There are plenty of online communities to join. Binetusa.org and shybi.com are places to discuss the unique challenges and obstacles bisexuals face. Bisexual.org has a fantastic library of articles, and discussions, and even lists famous people you might not have known were bi. In your local community, look at meetup.org to find bisexual or bisexual friendly meet-ups.
It is much easier to research within the bisexual community than to look in the LGBT community. It is most important to fight for your rights and support others who are questioning or longing for understanding.
“A lot of LGBT experts call bi people ‘the silent majority', since there are likely a lot more bi people out there who would rather hide than come out and deal with all the stigma,” Aguair writes. “Unfortunately, the only way we can change that is for more bi people to live their lives openly, and demonstrate firsthand how much it doesn't have to be that big a deal. It also illustrates how important it is for bi, pan, and other sexually fluid people to come together and form a community to support one another”
Pam Simmons, who has struggled with her bisexual identity for many years, wrote, "The best advice I could give is to find someone you trust and share what you are feeling, how it is affecting you, your fears & doubts. The journey to identifying as bisexual may be a lifelong process. But that’s ok. You define you…. Nobody else. Be true to yourself. And most of all, love yourself.”
Writing a story about polyamory and BDSM is like putting together a puzzle without the box top to tell you what it’s supposed to look like. People in both local communities are welcoming and open—excited to share their stories and viewpoints—but mainly under the promise of anonymity. In most cases, it’s not that they’re ashamed, it’s that there are often consequences that can come with being out.
“We don’t have a general population survey about kink and BDSM because people are afraid of discrimination and persecution,” explains Susan Wright, a spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). “Just like the LGBTQ+ community, many people who are into kink may be closeted from their family, co-workers, and sometimes even their primary partner.”
The NCSF is a national organization whose mission is to fight for the sexual freedom and privacy rights for all adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior. This often means educating professionals such as doctors, lawyers and the like about consensual kink practices. Recently, the organization has seen an uptick in people needing their help. Wright says much of that can be credited to discriminatory language that is now part of popular vernacular due to the current political climate.
BDSM is an umbrella term for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. It encompasses a variety of lifestyles, personal experiences and interpersonal dynamics—from those who keep it to the bedroom to those who are active in local BDSM groups. Polyamory is a relationship/lifestyle choice where you are romantically involved with more than one person at the same time. Both lifestyles are based on the concept of consent of all parties involved.
“It might surprise people, but consent is our main focus,” Wright says. “I think if people listen to us, we have a bigger message for society about the importance of consent.”
While it’s hard to have tangible numbers for two lifestyle groups who choose to remain anonymous, FetLife.com, the leading social media website for kinksters, has more than 7 million members worldwide. More than 31,000 people on the website claim to live in the metro Phoenix area. With polyamory, it’s also difficult to count numbers, but experts believe millions across the U.S. are in some form of a non-monogamous relationship.
Rather than a BDSM or Polyamory 101, we wanted to hear from those who live their lives in both of these worlds. What follows are honest answers from those who practice either BDSM, polyamory—or in many cases—both. All of those we interviewed for this article opted to not share their full names for privacy concerns. Like all forms of personal expression, there are a variety of terms in both the BDSM and polyamory realms that have different meanings. In this article, we use “kink” and “BDSM” interchangeably, but in many cases, they are not. The leather community is also mentioned but is an entirely different subculture on its own. In addition, polyamory is not the only way to have a non-monogamous relationship. This article is but a brief overview of a very intricate topic.
Beginning Their Journeys
How BDSM practitioners and those who consider themselves polyamorous find themselves involved in both lifestyles varies.
Don is a gay man (well 80-90 percent gay, he says) who says he has “been kinky since the late 1970s, when I started tying myself up at age 12.” “I moved to Phoenix in 1993 after meeting my first long-term gay partner [we were together from 1993 to 2009] and discovered APEX [Arizona Power Exchange] in 1995 through a local publication called ‘The Beat’ which used to be available in newspaper kiosks around town. Ahh, the pre-internet days of kink.”
Minkari, who describes herself as bisexual and “owned and collared in a poly household” learned through books and personal experiences. “I read the Beauty books by Anne Rice and discovered BDSM through those. Poly is something I've always identified as, even before I knew there was a name for it. I identify equally poly, slave and primal.”
“Geek,” who considers themselves asexual, agendered, and prefers they/them pronouns, found out through a past relationship. “I was introduced to kink first through a man I was dating. He was the one that got me onto FetLife and through there I found the local dungeon,” they said. “I have always been non-monogamous. It was only after entering the kink community that I learned and started practicing a more ethical non-monogamy lifestyle. For me, the two are equally important.”
Katrina discovered kink and poly through the local community. “I was interested in kink at a young age and through trying to explore and understand my interests, I ended up going to a local event. I’ve been involved in the BDSM community ever since,” she says. “I learned about poly after I got involved in BDSM community. A lot of couples were interested in adding me to their relationship as a triad. It was only when I was able to date multiple people on my own that I identified as poly.”
Some, like Chris C., who runs a local polyamory Meetup.com group with his wife Maria C., found polyamory by pure luck. “In our case, we fell into polyamory very much by chance,” he says. “Unlike most people, we did not seek out the lifestyle but we have lived it for almost 20 of the 34 years of our married life. I believe we would be a happy monogamous couple today if we hadn't stumbled into this lifestyle but I am tremendously grateful that we did.”
The Local Scene
“The scene” can refer to a variety of things, but often refers to where BDSM activities and gatherings take place in the community. We asked those we interviewed what they would want the average person who is not involved in BDSM to know about the local scene.
“MD” identifies as an alternative lifestyler who is in a polyamorous authority transfer relationship with two slaves. “’The scene’ is just average people playing with sexual practices as a vanilla person might play at golf or working with the PTA,” he says. “A few live an alternative lifestyle with a very different idea of relationships, loving, and how to function in society. They are not trying to overthrow the norm, only exist in their own norm.”
“We're regular people,” Katrina shares. “Not everyone is a high power businessman, leggy dominatrix, or meek submissive. Not everyone is in it for sex; some people are not looking for sex at all. It would be very easy to paint anyone who is kinky as a sex lunatic who pays someone to do depraved things, but that simply isn't going to be the case for 99% of the people involved in BDSM.”
“No community is perfect,” shares Geek. “There are problematic people in vanilla life and in the scene. So trust but verify. Other community members are your best resources for vetting another person or event in the area. Find a few people whose opinion you trust and check in with them regularly.”
In metro Phoenix, there are often differences between scenes, such as the gay leather scene and the pansexual kinkster scene. Don notes that bars like Anvil, Nutowne, and Bunkhouse are BDSM/leather friendly. The leather community within itself is a whole different animal, with groups like the Phoenix Boys of Leather and other local organizations leading the charge. Places like Arizona Power Exchange (APEX) and groups like the GAP can be found on FetLife.com and host regular events for BDSM practitioners.
What about those who practice polyamory without BDSM? In the Valley, groups like “Arizona Polyamory Events” on Meetup.com host regular events. “We have been operating it [the Meetup.com group] for almost seven years and we have about 1,800 members,” says Chris C. “We have two, three or four events each week, all hosted by members who volunteer. Our events are very diverse. We provide events for education, emotional support, social connection and the opportunity to find relationships. We believe the success of our group is due to the emphasis on creating a real-life community as opposed to an online virtual community.”
Many BDSM and polyamory folk refuse to come out due to negative stereotypes and misconceptions. One of the leading misconceptions we heard time and time again was that the BDSM lifestyle is all about sex.
“I am asexual and part of the kink community,” says Geek. “I don't have sex or ‘sexual energy’ when I play with people. And at the dungeon I attend regularly, I can count on one hand the number of people who have sex in the dungeon. It’s pretty rare. I am not sure how kinksters can combat this notion because a lot of kinksters prefer to not be so open to non-community members about their kink life and we are competing against popular media like the ‘50 Shades’ stuff where its all about sex.”
Another stereotype that many come across when it relates to BDSM is that it’s an abusive lifestyle.
“The most common misconception is that BDSM is abuse,” Katrina shares. “A lot of people don't understand why someone would willingly engage in some of the things that are relatively common. At the end of the day, members need to express how important consent is in the community. Everyone involved has consented; if they haven't then it's not BDSM, plain and simple.”
“Kinksters are not capable of being stereotyped, as they come in all sorts of different sizes, ages, and genders,” says Don. “Yet, many do stereotype them, such as the ‘gay leather daddy,’ which possibly never existed, and if they ever did traditionally exist, they did not darken the skies of the kink world like passenger pigeons in the 19th century.”
When it comes to polyamory, many of those we spoke to said two misconceptions they felt were most prevalent is that it’s cheating and that it’s all about sex. While there are many flavors of non-monogamy, polyamory, in particular, focuses on consent and forging meaningful relationships.
While being outed is a scary prospect to many, those we spoke with reflected fondly of their experiences as members of both the BDSM and polyamory communities. Themes of friendship and family-like bonds were common.
“I love meeting new people and learning new things,” says Katrina. “I've grown so much since I joined the community and made friends who will always be a part of my life. I can be myself around these people and they don't need to hide either. It's also much easier to find like-minded partners and I also see how they interact with other people in the community. I made a lot of dumb mistakes getting here, but ultimately, I feel safer in the BDSM community than I ever would if I explored kink with people I meet at bars or on dating apps.”
“I have made great friends, people who I consider my chosen family. I wouldn't have them if it weren't for kink,” adds Geek.
“I enjoy finding the few people who share my world and relationship views,” says MD. “It is always nice to have people to share ideas and camaraderie with.”
For many in both BDSM and polyamory, it’s also about personal growth.
“Polyamory forced us to communicate better and gave us the opportunity to learn different relationship styles and love languages,” Chris C. says. “It brought people into our lives that we never would have had otherwise and made those relationships more significant that could have been possible without polyamory. There have been heartaches and painful breakups, too. Sometimes the price of polyamory, as in any style of relationship, is very high but in the end, for us, the benefits have greatly outweighed the costs.”
How to Navigate and Succeed
Whether they have decades of experience under their belts or just a few years, everyone we spoke to had similar tips for those who might be interested in BDSM and/or polyamory.
“If you're new or just interested, the Internet is your friend,” Katrina says. “Look up what you're interested in, look up ways to do it safely. Join Fetlife, look at events, message people going to those events. Make friends, go to classes, learn as much as you can. Do not jump into anything. Don't be judgmental of something just because you're not interested in it. Don't immediately start doing BDSM with someone just because you're excited; be safe. Don't join a triad right off the bat, learn about poly, and ask about the couple. Learn what your boundaries are and do not tolerate anyone breaking these boundaries. It's exciting, scary, and new, but take your time to learn.”
“If you want a specific style of poly but can't find anyone else who wants that, such as, group poly or even hierarchical poly, it's ok not to settle,” Minkari advises. “Don't enter a poly or BDSM relationship expecting others to change to meet your needs. It truly doesn't work like that and you'll just get frustrated and possibly ruin your reputation along the way. Attend classes, learn, and socialize in real life, not just online…You'll grow and learn and meet your tribe along the way.”
Like anything new, it all comes down to taking the leap.
“Put yourself out there,” Don says. “No one will beat a path to your door, unless you look like Jason Momoa, in which case I’ll be right there.”
BDSM and Polyamory Resources
There are several local and national resources for BDSM and polyamory. Below are just a few starting points (this is not a full, comprehensive list as resources are always evolving and being added).
- The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: www.ncsfreedom.org
- Polyamory events on Meetup: www.meetup.com/Arizona-Poly-Events
- Arizona Power Exchange: www.arizonapowerexchange.net, the Phoenix metro area dungeon
- The Anvil Bar: www.anvilbaraz.com, hosts regular kink/leather/fetish events
- Pat O's Bunkhouse Saloon: www.bunkhousesaloonphx.com, hosts regular kink/leather/fetish events
- Phoenix boys of Leather: www.phoenixboysofleather.com
- Arizona Men of Leather: www.arizonamenofleather.com
- The GAP Arizona: www.thegapaz.com
- The Next Generation Arizona: Search for “TNG Arizona” on FetLife.com
- FetLife.com: A social network for BDSM and other alternative lifestyles
- The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: www.ncsfreedom.org
- Polyamory events on Meetup: www.meetup.com/Arizona-Poly-Events
- Arizona Power Exchange:www.arizonapowerexchange.net, the Phoenix metro area dungeon
- The Anvil Bar:www.anvilbaraz.com, hosts regular kink/leather/fetish events
- Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon:www.bunkhousesaloonphx.com, hosts regular kink/leather/fetish events
- Phoenix boys of Leather:www.phoenixboysofleather.com
- Arizona Men of Leather:www.arizonamenofleather.com
- The GAP Arizona:www.thegapaz.com
- The Next Generation Arizona: Search for “TNG Arizona” on FetLife.com
Democratic women senators of Arizona have banded together and put their names, all 73 of them, to an open letter addressing the problematic Senator Kyrsten Sinema. We publish the letter, which was released by EMILY's List, in its entirety here:
After a year of obstructing every major policy of President Joe Biden’s agenda by protecting the Jim Crow filibuster and opposing several key elements of the Build Back Better bill, Senator Kyrsten Sinema has demonstrated that she cares more about protecting the interests of her corporate donors rather than democracy and voters who elected her.
Emily’s List, an organization that claims to ignite change, has stood firmly by our Senator and her defense of a racist, archaic Senate rule that stands in the way of legislation sitting in the Senate that would protect women’s reproductive rights, protect voting rights, raise the minimum wage, advance workers’ rights, act on the climate crisis, prevent gun violence, enact immigration reform, and so much more.
With this continued support of Senator Sinema and silence in the face of a crisis for our democracy and women’s rights, Emily’s List is losing credibility as an institution that promotes progress. Emily’s List claims to “reject apathy and the status quo” and to be “…committed to driving progressive change”, but these claims ring increasingly hollow when the organization fails to recognize how detrimental the Jim-Crow era Senate rule is to our democracy and progress and enables one of its only defenders among the Democratic caucus.
We, the undersigned Democratic women active in Arizona’s politics, call on Emily's list to immediately make a public demand to Senator Sinema to support ending the filibuster now. With the upcoming vote on filibuster reform planned for Tuesday, January 18th, the day after MLK Day, delay is unacceptable.
Celia Barotz, Former City of Flagstaff Vice-Mayor and Councilmember
Nancy Bonsall AZ LD10
Dorothy M. Barth, AZ CD2
Roberta Callahan, CD8 and LD20
Hazel Chandler, CD6 and LD 20
Casey Clowes, AZ CD9 and LD26
Georgia Conroy, AZ CD3, LD3
Carole Edelsky, AZ
Sharon Edgar, AZ CD1 and LD6
Barbara Erickson, AZ CD2, LD9
Gina Griffiths, AZ CD6 and LD28
Barbara Groleau, CD6 and LD20
Linda Guarino, AZ CD1 and LD6
Ann Heitland, AZ CD1 and LD7
Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, PC and state committee representative for LD3
Robin Hiller, AZ CD2
Deborah Howard, AZ CD8 and LD22
Mary Keerins, AZ CD2, LD9
Emily Kirkland, AZ CD9 and LD26
Rivko Knox, AZ CD 6 and LD 20
Molly McKasson, AZ CD2
Isabel O`Neal, AZ CD5 and LD12
Eva Putzova, AZ CD1 and Former City of Flagstaff Councilmember
Jenise Porter AZ CD2, LD9
Carol Schneiderman, AZ CD2 and LD3
Belén Sisa, AZ Immigrant Rights Activist
Patti Serrano, Executive Committee Member of ADP, AZ CD5, LD 17
Eve Shapiro, AZ CD2
Aubrey Sonderegger, AZ CD1 and LD6
Lee Stanfield, PC in AZ CD2 and LD10
Christine (“Wendy”) Sticht, AZ
Joanna Sweatt, AZ CD5, LD17
Barbara Tellman AZ CD3, LD3
Beth Trachy, AZ CD7 and LD 24
Barbara H Warren, AZ CD2
Marilyn Weissman, AZ CD1 and LD 6
Sonya Landau, AZ CD2
Katya Peterson, AZ CD2
Cynthia Soffrin, CD2? And LD10
Jean de Jong, AZ CD2
Stephanie Keenan, AZ
Ellen Shenkarow, AZ PC63
Dianne M. Bret Harte, AZ
Beth Mitchneck, AZ CD2, LD10
Claire E. Scheuren, AZ CD 2 and LD 9
Mary Marjorie King, CD2
Laurie Melrood, AZ CD 3 and LD 3
Paula Glitsos Walsh, AZ CD9, LD28
Peggie Jo Vincent, AZ CD-3, LD-1
Shayna Stevens, CD-9, LD-18
Xenia Orona, AZ CD 7 and LD-27
Jennifer Tanner, AZ CD 1 and LD 6
Rebecca Garelli, AZ CD5, LD 12
Toby Friedman AZ CD2 and LD6
Charlotte Mullis, AZ
Lori Lagorio, AZ CD2 and LD6
Carolyn Kavanagh, AZ CD2
Virginia Desmond, AZ CD2
Kim Crooks, AZ CD2
Cynthia Lang, AZ CD2
Marilyn Bernhardt, CD2 and LD 6
Rosemary Hooper AZ CD 2
Ann Barry, AZ
Maureen Delaney, AZ CD7 and LD24
Karen Taylor, AZ LD 6
Cathleen Banister-Marx, AZ LD 6
Peggy Natiello, CD2 and LD6
Rosemary Hooper AZ CD2
Elizabeth Holley, Tucson, CD 2, LD 10
Martha Lynne, Tucson, CD3, LD3
Jennifer Bosma, CD2, LD9
Laurie Seymour, AZ
It's not your typical horror film, but it is a moody exploration of evil for those seeking something a little different this spooky season.
Dark thriller ONLY THE ANIMALS, is directed and written by Dominik Moll (With a Friend like Harry), and stars Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Denis Ménochet and Laure Calamy in what has to be one of the more unusual releases of the year.
Divided into five chapters, French writer-director Moll’s murder mystery features a sophisticated multi-pronged narrative structure that keeps viewers on the edge and guessing until the last moments of the film.
Switching viewpoints, the plot connects a group of surprising characters with hidden drives and desires: a strange loner farmer, a husband and wife whose marriage has broken down, a young waitress who has become smitten with a mature female customer, and an African internet scam artist...
The film begins in a remote and snowy part of France after a woman goes missing from her abandoned car in an Alpine village, and the jigsaw pieces eventually extend to the Ivory Coast.
Following the disappearance of the glamorous and secretive Evelyne Ducat (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) during a blizzard, the lives of the five characters linked to her are brought together to devastating effect in this puzzling murder case.
At the heart of the film are two romantic fixations: one lesbian, one heterosexual — and both connect to the missing Evelyne. Along the way themes of obsession, lust, greed, and betrayal are explored.
The performances of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Summer of 85, Saint Laurent), Laure Calamy (Call My Agent), and Nadia Tereszkiewicz (Call My Agent) are raw, powerful, and authentic.
Dominik Moll studied film at City College in New York and the French National Film School IDHEC (now called FEMIS). A regular of the Cannes, Berlin, and Venice Film Festivals, he is best known for his dark hit comedy With a Friend Like Harry, winner of four Césars including Best Director, and the psychological thriller Lemming starring Charlotte Gainsbourg.