Dramas set in the 80s walk a tightrope, often forcing us into a sense of nostalgia, romanticizing the decade even though it was far from inclusive. LGBTQ coming-out films also walk a tightrope, usually stuck in a world of early LGBTQ challenges without showing a character existing beyond the struggle of identity. Blue Jean is both of these genres. Yet, the combination defies the challenges and comes off beautifully as a sincere dialogue and, in some ways, a sincere amends and admiration among generations.
Jean (Rosy McEwen) is a beloved gym teacher in England who finds herself torn between her love for Viv (Kerrie Hayes) and the fear of jeopardizing her career by coming out. Jean’s struggle with her double life takes a toll on her relationship and work life until it all comes to a boiling point after she sees a student at the gay club she frequents.
Even though the premise may seem well-worn ground, writer-director Georgia Oakley is not working in stereotypes and simplistic character arcs. She has crafted a narrative that is historically relevant and tragically resonant today. The story is interwoven with television and radio updates highlighting the conservative government’s efforts, led by Margaret Thatcher, to enact discriminatory legislation against the LGBT community.
The film opens with Jean discussing the fight-or-flight response and instinctual reactions. Initially enigmatic, this scene gains significance as Oakley layers situations upon each other, forcing Jean to rely on survival instincts and make irreversible mistakes along the way. As whispers circulate about Jean, the film taps into the pain of being targeted, by the government, peers, and family. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE
An award-winning writer of screen and stage, Justina Walford was also the Founder and Festival Director of Women Texas Film Festival for the life of the fest and she was programming director of Oxford Film Festival for two years. A lover of adrenaline-filled movies since she could understand the word “zombie,” she is particularly drawn to strong women’s voices in alternative genres such as horror, action, and science fiction.