Cloudburst

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Cloudburst
"Stella is a gleefully crude dyke who could give Malcolm Tucker a run for his money in a creative swearing contest."

Do you believe gay couples should be allowed to marry? If you're a filmmaker, it's a no-brainer - it opens a whole new vein of romantic comedies telling the same old story with just that little twist so they can pretend we haven't seen them before. So it's refreshing that one of the first high-profile ones should be so distinctive, and should present a romance that's different in another way - both its protagonists are in their eighties.

Stella (Olympia Dukakis) and Dot (Brenda Fricker) have lived together for 31 years. Now Dot's granddaughter wants to put her in a care home, tricking her into signing over power of attourney. When Stella realises it's possible for two women to marry in Canada, she thinks this may offer a solution to their problems, creating a legal bond that could prevent them being separated. So they flee together in her truck, picking up charming young male hitchhiker (Ryan Doucette) along the way.

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So far, so Thelma And Louise, but this film pulls fewer punches. Stella is a gleefully crude dyke who could give Malcolm Tucker a run for his money in a creative swearing contest. The hitchhiker may not represent the kind of sexual temptation Brad Pitt did, but there's certainly sexual tension and a whole lot of sexually explicit humour. Dot, meanwhile, is seriously ailing, giving the film an urgency and a painfully serious side that Ridley Scott never seemed fully willing to engage with.

Out goes the Marianne Faithful; in comes kd lang, though the film doesn't appear to be targeted at an exclusively lesbian audience. It should have wide appeal to romance fans of all stripes. There are times when it takes the slapstick a little too far and breaks the mood, times when events seem just a little too contrived, and some of the supporting characters are clich├ęd, but its good-heartedness makes it easy to forgive. The cinematography brings out the best in a series of beautiful landscapes and production standards are high throughout.

In the end, this is Dukakis' film. There may be few parts available for actresses her age but this one is worth ten standard leading lady roles. She launches herself into it with gusto and never lets up. Doubtless it will frighten some unprepared viewers but they'll never again dismiss old ladies as mere spectators in life. Other viewers will find it thrilling. This is a romantic comedy with attitude.

Reviewed on: 04 Feb 2012
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An elderly lesbian couple flee the threat of a nursing home and head to Canada to marry, picking up a hitchhiker along the way.
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Director: Thom Fitzgerald

Writer: Thom Fitzgerald

Starring: Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Ryan Doucette, Kristin Booth, John Dunsworth

Year: 2011

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: US, Canada

Festivals:

Glasgow 2012

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