Who's Afraid Of Vagina Wolf?


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?
"Olech's scenes are a delight but she really deserves better material."

It's fair to say that the critics have not been kind to this film. Much of this is deserved but some of it is also down to misrepresentation. Though it doubtless thinks of itself as an art film, in line with the ambitions of its Mary Sue central character, it really isn't fir to compete in that market. As a romantic comedy, however, it's just about passable - there's certainly worse out there.

The story is based around Anna (played by Anna Margarita Albelo), a slacker who lives in her friend's garage, dances around in a giant vagina costume in order to scrape a living, and is going through a mid-life crisis related in large part to her not having a girlfriend. Like many people who whine about that particular subject, she isn't really tying to fix the situation - at least, not until she meets Katia (Janina Gavankar), a younger woman with a hot body and a supremely irritating personality, whom she decides to impress by making a film. As you do.

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Plotwise, that's about it. Naturally things don't go to plan, though the hurdles Anna has to overcome are pretty minor like people being slightly annoyed with her or not feeling exactly the way she expects. There's a single scene in which potential funders try to persuade her to put more sex in the film, which is a fair comment on the problems with getting a lesbian-themed film made but is a dull cliché in films of this sort; this seems to be completely forgotten about as the story develops. The acting is deeply mediocre, with the exception of Agnès Olech as Julia, the cinematographer whose unfathomable interest the single-minded Anna writes off (you can see where this is going). Olech's scenes are a delight but she really deserves better material.

Most people know someone like Anna, but in reality these people generally have some real problems underlying their learned helplessness. The change they need to make is complex and they may also need a bit of luck. Not so Anna - it's all about her even when she's getting to wrong. One scene towards the end of the film, where she listens to a lst of all her supposed good points, is truly cringeworthy.

All this, however, makes the film sound worse than it actually is. As a fluffy tale of girl meets girl, it's serviceable enough (as long as you can cope with the shrieking and giggling). The central narrative is competently, if not creatively, handled, and it sticks closely enough to formula that it'll doubtless cheer up somebody curled up n a couch with a mug of cocoa on a lonely night.

The real problem with the film is its positioning of itself as a bold new voice in lesbian cinema. If this is as bold as it gets, the genre is in a worse state than previously thought. There are many talented lesbian filmmakers out there whose work would make a more effective statement than this.

Reviewed on: 04 Sep 2014
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An unhappy slacker tries to make a film in order to impress the girl of her dreams.
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Director: Anna Margarita Albelo

Writer: Michael Urban, Anna Margarita Albelo

Starring: Anna Margarita Albelo, Guinevere Turner, Janina Gavankar, Agnes Olech, Carrie Preston

Year: 2013

Runtime: 83 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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