The Inexplicably Queer

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The question of a film's "queerness" in reference to the cast members attached to the film was actually something I discussed in one of my class responses, but I feel that it's always an interesting topic to discuss. While I feel that in a film like Brokeback Mountain the straight-ness of the two leading actors actually detracted from the "queerness" of the film, in this instance I would actually argue the opposite.

I think one of the greatest aspects of this film was that it introduced the two starring actors to the rest of the world. I believe that it was in the director's choice to cast two young, otherwise unknown actors into the leading roles that gives the film a "queer" slant. What's great about this film is that it plays a double narrative without the audience knowing it; the second narrative being Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey's entrance into the world of film through the lens of two young girls growing up. It is the fact that the actors outside of the film are growing up coupled with the fact that the characters they are portraying are exploring youthful sexuality that gives this film a uniquely "queer" eye. Furthermore, Heavenly Creatures does a brilliant job of never explicitly telling the audience what the nature of Pauline and Juliet's relationship is, leaving loose ends and ambiguous imagery up to the audience to interpret. Perhaps the most subtle, but also one of the most powerful examples of "queerness" in the film is Pauline's perpetual chase of Juliet. While watching the film, I noticed that in almost every scene Pauline is following Juliet's lead, chasing her into a fantasy world. While this is not overtly sexual, the undertones beneath it: longing, desire, youthfulness and desperation all re-enforce the sexual nature of the film from underneath. At the end of the film, when they are about to kill Pauline's mother, Pauline initially leads the way with Juliet trailing behind. It isn't until the two girls switch positions that Pauline musters the strength to kill her mother.

As far as the comparison between this film and Female Trouble, it's honestly like comparing apples and oranges. They are both "queer films" in very different ways, noticeably different in content and especially different in form. I also feel that they can be appreciated by different sub groups of the queer community and for different reasons. In a sense Female Trouble explores the idea of in your face "queerness" while Heavenly Creatures is characterized by what we may call the "inexplicably queer."

1 Comment

I think that's a great examination of a deliberate blocking choice made by Cameron (the director). I did not notice that until reading your post, but now that you've said it, I think that Pauline always following or chasing after Juliet can also be interpreted as an emphasis of their differing classes. There are scenes where Pauline is visibly embarrassed by her family's working class home, so different from Juliet's sprawling estate. Perhaps this is also why Pauline is portrayed a step behind, or a step below, Juliet.

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This page contains a single entry by mill5609 published on March 5, 2012 10:30 AM.

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