Loving Annabelle

Loving Annabelle was one of the first good lesbian movies that I stumbled upon and remains one of my favorites, not least because the way that I ended up seeing it is endearing.

I stumbled upon Loving Annabelle on youtube–a quick way to find lesbian films and/or tv shows because fans make lots of videos of their favorite couples.  I couldn’t find Loving Annabelle for a reasonable price so I used my online student forum to ask for it.  I didn’t get any responses online and mentioned my interest in the film while at the Marine Biology lab with a few friends, one of whom was studying octopi and gave us a legitimate reason to be there.  Coincidentally, one of them owned the movie and loaned it to me.  This same friend and I began dating two years later, and it wasn’t until our first anniversary that she admitted that she bought it after seeing my online post, hoping that I would bring it up so we could watch together.

The plot of Loving Annabelle isn’t new–forbidden love between a teacher and her student.  The student’s almost 18 so that’s tricky in a not-legal sort of way.  The director and writer, Katherine Brooks, works around this by making the student the seducer rather than the seduced.  There are also numerous scenes where Annabelle–the student–is shown to be more intelligent, mature, and compassionate than her fellow classmates.  Simone, the teacher, is also a young teacher so the age gap is small.

Annabelle is a rebel sent to an all-girls, private, Catholic school by her Congresswoman mother who doesn’t want her daughter’s antics to ruin her political career.  Simone is an English teacher at this high school, her former alma mater.  Annabelle is precocious and vocal; her personality is magnetic–all of the girls are drawn to her, even the troublemaking bully.  On the other hand, Simone is painfully withdrawn.  Physically, she’s taller than every other character, but she avoids direct eye contact and walks with her head down making her seem smaller; she wraps herself in sweaters when with others and in her own arms when by herself, as if she is afraid and needs constant protection.

Brooks reveals the reason for Simone’s inner withdrawal–so well conveyed in her physical appearance–in a delicate manner, and her storytelling throughout is subtle while still conveying the dramatic nature of the story.  While you can easily deduce that Annabelle and Simone are going to get together (if not immediately from the tagline–“one student.  one teacher.  one secret.”–then from Annabelle’s conspicuous ogling of Simone when her back is turned during class), Brooks makes you wait for the resolution, taking each character on an introspective journey, and the ending addresses the complexity of their relationship.

The film is also a lovely one to watch for the cinematography.  Working with a small budget, Brooks still created a film that is both visually and aurally compelling.  The music is mostly instrumental composed by a band called Aurah, who are well-known for the ethereal and transformative quality of their music–qualities that enhance the loveliness of this film.  The film also expertly captures the literal and figurative message of life in the closet.  In the first scene, the camera zooms in on Annabelle as she rolls down the window of her mother’s limo.  The camera then pans out and explores the natural scenery until Annabelle arrives at the school.  Annabelle and Simone spend the majority of their time together outside–a movie viewing on the lawn, a picnic, time at the beach.  When they’re in nature they are free to be themselves.  They’re literally and figuratively out.

Overall, I’d give the film the following ratings:

Love scene: 5 stars
Lesbian characters: 5 stars
Overall: 5 stars

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~ by thornfieldrose on July 24, 2012.

 
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