Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Carson can't articulate his feelings very well but Camperchioli lets us see them."

Carson (Corey Camperchioli) is a young man looking for love. Apps better suited to a culture of one night stands may not be the best place to try, especially when he can't even successfully use them to get laid. Sure, he can generate interest. He's nice enough looking and in decent shape. But it's the way he speaks, the way he walks that turns off the guys he likes. "If I wanted to date a girl I'd be straight," says one. Carson is the very definition of femme.

An award winner at this year's Boston LGBT Film Festival, Femme has struck a nerve at a moment when conversations about femininity are becoming more urgent within the gay community. A younger generation is emerging in which concepts of gender are more fluid and expansive, and questions are being asked about why femininity is still stigmatised, long after stereotypes imposed by straight people have lost their power. Though Carson is distressed by his experiences, it takes a female friend (Stephanie Hsu) to point out the dodgy politics involved and put a feminist perspective on it. But it will take somebody much more fabulous - glittering drag queen Panzy (played by RuPaul's Drag Race star Jesus Rivera) - as a fairy godmother with no tolerance for bullshit.

Femme is getting a Revry release just days after Grindr announced that it will start banning profiles that state 'no fats, no fems, no Asians' - a phenomenon much more common than outsiders might expect. Although it's blunt about its politics, the film is mostly concerned with the emotional impact of such attitudes. Carson is young and just beginning to find his way in life. He can't articulate his feelings very well but Camperchioli lets us see them. He exaggerates the young man's behaviour to the point where one can easily understand why people find it annoying, but also lets us see how much of it stems from insecurity. In overcompensating for the shyness that is only made worse by rejection, Carson makes his natural sweetness seem clingy and desperate rather than fabulous and relaxed.

Delivered with a light touch, Femme is careful not to overstay its welcome. Its blunt dialogue, often played for laughs, conceals a more delicate heart.

Reviewed on: 19 Sep 2018
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A gay twentysomething embarks on a journey of self discovery after looking for love on all the wrong apps.

Director: Alden Peters

Writer: Corey Camperchioli

Starring: Corey Camperchioli, Jesus ‘Aja’ Rivera, Stephanie Hsu, Johnny Sibilly, Derek Klena, Rob Figueroa

Year: 2018

Runtime: 18 minutes

Country: US


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