Rose Troche makes an auspicious debut as director, co-writer and editor of “Go Fish,” a fresh, hip comedy about contemporary lifestyles within the lesbian community. Theatrical prospects are excellent for an all-female picture that is sharply observed, visually audacious and full of surprising charms. A shrewd marketing campaign should broaden the appeal of enormously likable comedy beyond the gay and lesbian markets, particularly among young urban viewers.
The most refreshing dimension of “Go Fish” is that it’s not dealing with coming out and it’s not burdened with the stiff, sanctimonious tone of such lesbian films as “Claire of the Moon.” Instead, the point of departure of scripters Troche and Turner is that women can — and do — live emotionally fulfilling lives in lesbian communities, without being stigmatized or penalized.
The comedy is off to a good start when Kia (T. Wendy McMillan), a mature black professor, is speculating with her students about who might be lesbian in American society. Kia, who is romantically involved with Evy (Migdalia Melendez) , an Hispanic divorcee, would like Max (Guinevere Turner), her younger, energetic roommate to meet a girl. She decides to set her up with Ely (V.S. Brodie), an ex-student of hers who’s in the process of terminating a long-distance relationship.
Through cross-cutting between the Max and Ely households, the well-written comedy conveys the folklore that women share when there are no men around.
The whole story builds up to an hilarious date between Ely and Max, with their friends insisting on getting all the dirty details — the before, during and after.
Small in scale, but full of truthful insights, “Go Fish” is charged with a fierce intelligence about how lesbians actually live.Troche’s lovely touches are especially evident in the way she shows the characters’ healthy sensuality. It’s to her credit that sex in the 1990s is treated in the most natural fashion, without condescending to any of their characters, including the perpetually horny Daria (Anastasia Sharp).
As director, Troche elicits perfectly natural performances from her mostly nonprofessional ensemble. As the central couple, Guinevere Turner and V.S. Brodie inhabit rather than play their roles by projecting an inner verve and verbal charm.
As editor, Troche brings snap to the storytelling, particularly in her letter-perfect intercutting of the women’s various glances — lusty, duplicitous , suspicious. She’s greatly assisted by Ann Rossetti’s stylized black-and-white cinematography.
In moments, “Go Fish” turns too cutesy for its own good — some one-liners are thrown in just because they’re funny. And the film’s last sequence, a montage of beautiful women making love, is unnecessarily long, and it turns the comedy into an agenda movie, which otherwise it is not.
These are minor complaints, however, for a film whose characters are so likable and sympathetic that it’s bound to win over viewers who might initially be suspicious of an all-out lesbian film. Highly entertaining and always light on its feet, “Go Fish” is unmistakably one of the Sundance Festival’s popular hits.