Maria Maggenti’s “The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love” is a poignant lesbian romantic fable that celebrates the sacredness of first love. Scheduled for the summer, Fine Line release may have crossover appeal and, given the universality of its subject matter, which goes beyond age and sexual orientation, may even serve as legit date movie for all types of kids.
Pic’s narrative surface is rather conventional, detailing the first love of two high-school seniors determined to stick together against all odds. But the overtly lesbian milieu is new, as is the protagonists’ youth, setting the film apart not only from traditional teen comedies but also from twentysomething lesbian comedies such as “Go Fish.”
Randy (Laurel Holloman) is a rebellious tomboy who lives with her lesbian aunt and her lover in a working-class neighborhood. Bored and unmotivated, she holds down a part-time job at the aunt’s gas station. One day, she spots Evie (Nicole Parker), a bright, rich, beautiful black classmate who is one of the school’s most popular girls.
The two connect when Evie drives into the gas station to have her Range Rover checked. A few meaningful looks are exchanged — and Randy falls in love. Still involved with a man, Evie is intrigued but also hesitant; the experience is totally foreign to her.
Unlike most Hollywood comedy-fables in which the romance is glamorous, impossibly passionate and abstract, the central liaison in this film is simple, concrete — and always rings true. As it concerns teenagers exploring their sexuality, the language of romance has a different nuance here, one of tenderness and pain, qualities often lacking in U.S. movie romances.
Most of the tale is devoted to Randy and Evie’s dates, recording in dead-on, seriocomic manner the awkwardness and unbearable intensity of teenage love — holding hands, the first kiss, the first passionate lovemaking.
It may be an indication of the politically correct times, but notmuch is made of the interracial foundation of the bond — race is not an issue for the girls or for their friends. Prejudice against lesbians, however, is very much in evidence, as in an aching scene in a restaurant, where Evie’s friends leave her one by one.
Impressively, first-time scripter Maggenti has etched two beautifully detailed portraits of women whose sexual identities are fluid enough to change. She also shows a dependable, sensitive ear for the kind of lingo spoken by teenagers in love.
But cluttering up the landscape are subsidiary characters that are narrowly, almost grotesquely conceived, particularly Evie’s stuffy mother (Stephanie Berry), a severe career woman, and the voluptuous, Anita Ekberg-like Vicky (Sabrina Artel), who punctuates the fable with outrageous costumes for comic relief.
Neophyte helmer Maggenti still needs to acquire technical skills of camera placement, pacing and framing. Tone of last sequence, set in a motel, with the girls locked inside and everybody else frantically waiting outside, is too farcical and schematic, without being funny. Nonetheless, Maggenti’s generous heart is always in the right place, which is what really matters.
Holloman and Parker, who are well-cast as the tomboy and the beautiful girl, respectively, give natural perfs that are engaging without being truly compelling. Tech credits are no more than adequate on what appears to have been an extremely low-budget effort.
Dedicated to Maggenti’s first love, this is a personal film that will inevitably evoke nostalgic memories among viewers of all ages of their own pangs of the heart.