So, the festival...
Angel is adapted from an Elizabeth Taylor novel which I now want to read and is Ozon doing his Powell and Pressburger homage - it has a lush overblown palette that reminded me heavily of Gone to Earth and its capacity to make me cry a lot was very much in the vein of that film too. Angel is a schoolgirl growing up poor in the provinces in Edwardian England - there is a hint that she is a by-blow of the aristocracy and that her mother got given the grocery shop she owns as hush money, in which case she is probably the sister of her husband's mistress and the aunt of his child. She has a capacity to sell her dreams and becomes a best-selling novelist and fabulously wealthy, until her growing pacifism during WW1 loses her her audience and she is rendered old-hat by fashion. She meets and marries the arrogant gambling post-impressionist of her dreams; his sister is devoted to her and becomes her secretary-companion.
This is a film in which lesbian desire is never central, but present from an early stage as a significant theme; when the widowed Angel dies of a broken heart and pneumonia got saving a cat from the snow, she and the secretary end up recapitulating the closing scene from her first novel. She never reciprocates Nora's love as such, but she does die recognizing that Nora is the only person apart from her mother who has ever loved her. I cried buckets, as I was meant to.
At one level it is knowing camp old nonsense and at another it is a film which dares us not to be moved by its artifice and its glorious languourous length and its thickly-textured visual beauty and its supreme intelligence. It is a film which only marginally belonged in the Festival, but who cares!?! It needs to be seen.
As, in a very different way, does Beautiful Daughters, a documentary about the first ever all transwoman production of The Vagina Monologues. I said at the time and meant it that it was the film about trans issues I have been waiting to see for thirty years - it was celebratory and passionate and kept all the angst and ennui in their proper place as a part of our lives, but stressed the extraordinariness of the women we met. Some of the choices the film-makers make exclude people a bit - it concentrates on straight-identified transwomen and we only spend time with one woman of colour, though others were in the group in both cases whose stories did not get told. But this is no more than a cavil at an excellent and moving piece of work. It is vastly the best documentary I have seen at this festival both in the way it moved its audience and the sheer slick professionalism of its production values.
And can I say how I despise those women who have criticized Eve Ensler for adding a trans-related monologue to her play?