Apparently not content with the ranting I’ve already done about queer cinema, I’ve decided to come back for another crack with a round-up of some of the lgbtqia+ movies on the horizon.
The big one, of course, is probably Roland Emmerich’s hotly anticipated Stonewall. Jenny Casimiro has already covered the gay community’s reaction to this bastardized version of history in an article from last month, so I won’t labor too long on what is sure to be a cinematic disappointment. Like we need anymore white-washed, cis-washed, watered down on-screen reputation, right?
But there’s a couple of other films coming out over the next couple of months that have caught my eye as potential gems: Peter Sollett’s Freeheld and Gaby Dellal’s About Ray.
So Freeheld is a remake of an Oscar-winning documentary of the same name, which I confess I haven’t seen. It’s apparently a real tear-jerker and is based on the true story of terminally ill New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester and her legal battle to ensure her partner receives her pension after she dies. It stars Julianne Moore in the title role, Steve Carell as a lawyer / lgbtqia+ activist, and Ellen Page as Hester’s girlfriend. So the cast is looking pretty stellar. It also means we have Ellen Page, a queer person, playing a queer character! Which is pretty exciting. This one comes out next month, on the 2nd of October.
About Ray, on the other hand, looks like it might be a little less horrifically sad. This one’s out very soon, on 18th September, and it’s the story of a young trans man in the process of transitioning, and the effect this has on his family, his life, etc. The cast is made up of Naomi Watts as Ray’s mother, Tate Donovan as his absent (and from the look of the trailer, kind of transphobic) father, and Susan Sarandon as Ray’s lesbian grandmother. Nice. The only thing that has kind of put me off is the casting of Elle Fanning as the titular Ray. I’m not disputing her talent as an actress, but I feel like this was a missed opportunity for some real trans representation. It was like casting Jared Leto to play a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club, in that it sort of leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially when he scooped up all those awards for the role. Why is that we can’t cast trans actors to play trans characters? Or at least, if Hollywood is going to insist on casting cis people to play trans people, why doesn’t it work the other way too? When was the last time you saw a trans person playing a cis person? Hm.
I guess you can’t have everything, and I still think it has the potential to be a good movie. From the trailer, it looks as though its a sensitive portrayal of transitioning, and that the character of Ray at least won’t just be there for cheap laughs. That’s something.
I’m sticking to my guns and saying that movies like this fit into the specific genre of ‘queer cinema’ – that is to say, films that are explicitly, tragically, dramatically, and solely about being queer – and that also I’m still waiting on lgbtqia+ representation in all other kinds of genres. I want gay sci-fi, damn it. But until that happens, I guess more nuanced representation will do.
Having seen the trailers, what do you think? Are there any other queer movies coming up you’re excited for?