As I sit here, I am trying in vain to find something positive to say about this film. I have no doubt that ‘Snapshots’ is a labour of love – independent filmmaking always is – yet, the result is such a twee, cringe-worthy mess that I cannot consciously recommend the experience to even the most dedicated of lesbian cinephiles.
The film revolves around a tri-generational family of women. Allison (Emily Baldoni), a young woman amidst in conflict with an absent husband, visits her grandmother Rose (Piper Laurie) with her mother, Patty (Brooke Adams) in tow. Allison and Patty are constantly at each other’s throats, with Rose situated firmly in the middle of these tensions. Through a series of flashbacks, we discover that Rose hides a secret that may provoke further strife – the love of her life was not Patty’s father, but an enigmatic redhead named Louise.
The pair meet in 1960, on a veranda next to a river. (Idyllic, right?) Louise is bold and daring, quoting poetry at random instances, and speaking wistfully of her time at art school. Rose is quiet and sweet, excelling in fishing and cooking for her husband, Joe. The two make firm friends with a flirtatious undercurrent largely contributed by Louise until, after a night alone together, their deep platonic bond becomes something much more.
The problem, of course, is that both women are married – and neither are in position to break free from the shackles of social expectation. An innocent friendship transforms into an illicit affair, comprised of stolen moments after dinner, daring glances across the room, and odd nights together whilst the men are away on business. The newly pressured situation sparks jealousy in Rose, and desperation in Louise.
Throughout this story, the film jarringly bounces back to the present, detailing a second tale of a family caught up in lies and deceit. Allison’s father cheated on her mother shortly before his premature death, and their differing opinions of his betrayal cause frequent arguments for the two women. Every interaction ends in thorny accusations, but this conflict is never balanced out with any form of affection. This imbalance creates an irritating sense of monotony – we get it, they don’t get along. Moreover, each character is either paper thin or outrageously unlikable, with decisions rarely making sense other than to contribute further to an atmosphere of hatred.
The flashback scenes are a much lighter affair but suffer from many of the same issues. The two leads (Shannon Collis and Emily Goss) try their best but cannot overcome the insipid dialogue of their romance. “I love you, baby!” Louise declares often, rarely displaying any actual reason for loving Rose, any chemistry or indeed, any subtlety at all within the constructed relationship.
‘Snapshots’ a sweet and basic enough story (they kiss, they have sex, they have a short period of bliss, they reach a crisis) for those desperate for lesbian representation (to be honest, aren’t we all?), but for audiences looking for depth, there is very little to be found here.
‘Snapshots’ will be released in the US in September 2018. For the rest of our BFI Flare film coverage, click here.