The existence of the romcom as a genre is often considered formulaic and vapid. Many people love to hate, and a trashy romcom is the supposedly lowest ranking of cinema. And yet, for others, the romcom is actually one of the most celebrated genres in cinema, where people live for the magical moments, the predictable tropes and the happy endings of it all. However, it is not what it is without its many critiques; whether it’s not diverse enough, or it’s too heteronormative, or it doesn’t cater to the reality of the world. In Todd Strauss-Schulson’s Isn’t it Romantic, the argument is laid out that anyone could have the life of a protagonist in a romantic comedy, no matter how silly or hopeless this actually looks like.
Netflix favorite Shannon Purser is back as a leading lady in Sierra Burgess is a Loser, the streaming service’s latest rom-com after a summer full of hits. With Purser as the titular character, the film follows the teenage writing prodigy as she tries to survive her final year of high school while being an outcast. She’s got wicked wit, a great best friend and parents that love and support her. But, like many of us at that age, her body image and fear of being rejected create limitations. So when the cute jock Jamey, played by Twitter’s latest boyfriend, Noah Centineo, pursues her via text message under false pretenses, Sierra takes it as opportunity to let a boy get to know her without the risk. It may play as predictably as most rom-coms, but the cast still charms.
Approximately seven months ago, I started off this blog with a list of lesbian rom-com recommendations. At that point, myself and Dilara had no idea how far Much Ado could go; for all intents and purposes, this blog would be a place where we could occasionally throw written work, the odd opinion piece, or a review that required a platform slightly more formal than letterboxd.
Nine regular writers, twelve guest writers, 136 posts, 2700 twitter followers, and ten festivals later, Much Ado About Cinema has become a space where young developing critics can hone their skills and produce content for a new generation of film fans. For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do a follow-up post to my very first article – a continued vent about the wonder of the lesbian romcom. These five films may be slightly rough around the edges, with some even veering into cringeworthy territory, but they all provide the kind of gay warm fuzzies that every queer woman deserves.
Show Me Love/Fucking Åmål (1998)
Potentially more of a romantic drama than a true romantic comedy, ‘Show Me Love’ provides an insightful tale of teen love that will resonate with any lesbian who crushed on the popular girl in high school. Agnes is a depressed, closeted sixteen-year-old with a passionate love for Elin, an outgoing but bratty teen. Both girls are unhappy with their lives in different ways; Agnes is lonely and stuck in the juvenile social class of “weirdo outcast”, whilst Elin is bored with her seemingly perfect life. After a cruel kiss on a dare, Elin becomes intrigued by Agnes, and their mismatched romance flourishes through the peaks and troughs of adolescent life.
This is my very first post here at Much Ado About Cinema, and because I’m a fine upstanding member of the community, I thought I’d use this opportunity to highlight some true saviours of the film industry – the handful of lesbian movies that actually provide us with light-hearted relief. As many social media posts of late have picked up on, sapphic films are often incredibly serious and/or depressing, regardless of their artistic merit. As the following five movies prove, however, not all is lost for us; gay women can indeed hold their own when it comes to awful chick flicks.
But I’m A Cheerleader (2000)
As one of the more well-known entries on this list due to its status as a cult classic, “But I’m A Cheerleader” follows the story of a high school cheerleader, Megan, who is sent to a residential camp to be cured of her rampant lesbianism – hence the name. It’s a crude, tongue-in-cheek comedy that wasn’t exactly well received by critics at the time of release, but the film takes its difficult and serious topic to a farcical level, allowing a fair amount of laughs at the ridiculousness of the assumptions people make about sexuality, whilst incorporating a cutesy gay love story to boot. Starring a young Natasha Lyonne, who later went on to become lesbian royalty as Nicky Nichols in “Orange is the New Black”, and the always appreciated Clea DuVall, there’s a lot here for fans of lesbian culture to enjoy.