I have a confession to make: before starting this column, I had only seen about 2 classic lesbian films. I know, I’m a bad queer. When I admitted this to my fellow GO coworkers, they were appalled. Two of them quickly listed off at least 10 films I needed to watch right away. I rapidly wrote down the titles (for research, obviously).
I want to take you all along with me in my quest to review all of the lesbian classics through my Millennial queer lens. Last week, I reviewed the hilarious adventure film “D.E.B.S.”
This week, I watched the insanely emotional “Claire Of The Moon.”
I’m so excited for this movie, simply because of the title: “Claire Of The Moon.” I mean, it’s already so gay. It was Nicole Conn’s 1992 film debut. A true magical lesbian gem of a film.
The introduction of the film truly sets you up for the 90s level of drama and heartbreak you’re about to witness. It cuts between beautiful images of the West coast and a man and woman having sex on a carpeted floor with dramatic piano music playing in the background.
The main character, Claire, is at a writing retreat with an interesting bunch of women. One of them is Noel, or Dr. Benedict, that will be Claire’s roommate. They start talking and the scenes do this weird fade to black thing when you’re not really sure if they’re done talking or what the point was.
Claire gets fawned over by all the women, one of whom is Tara O’Hara (a southern woman with blue eyeshadow to match her awful skirt-suit). But when Noel walks past the group, she makes it clear she has no intention of joining such trivial talk. And of course Tara takes that as an opportunity to gossip about how Noel is referred to as “Benedict, Dr. of Love,” as well as a *wink* eunuch. Claire informs her that she’s not using the word properly and Tara is all “Am I not?” *wink, wink.* The scene is a hella awkward way of letting us know that Noel is very gay.
Also gay? Maggie, who is the retreat director and dons like the most fabulous 90s lesbian attire ever. After her introduction meeting for all the writers, Claire goes back to her room and throws away a picture of a random dude. At this point, I have a feeling that there is a going to be a lot of lesbian sex, drama, and heartbreak in this film.
When Noel joins Claire back at their room, it becomes jarringly apparent that the two are not going to get along. They are polar opposites. Claire is a free spirit who spends time blaring music, hanging out in her silky robe, and smoking while watching the sunrise. Noel, on the other hand, is disciplined, always working, and constantly annoyed by everything Claire does. She also seems to viscerally hate that Claire is straight. Noel spends all her time intellectualizing being gay and critiquing heteronormative culture (same, though). She’s basically Judith Butler.
Noel and Maggie are obviously gay besties and I think they are also probably exes (at least they’ve definitely f*cked before). Noel takes up her complaints about Claire with Maggie — and Maggie is all “I knew you’d fall in love with her.”
Suddenly we find ourselves in a bar with Claire and some random dude hitting on her where she describes astrology as “just so cosmic” and of course, she’s a Scorpio. Then it quickly fades to a meeting of the other women sharing their writing from the week. The majority of the women there are writing romance novels (read: erotica) because, duh. This film is just so 90s.
When Noel and Claire meet the next morning, it becomes clear that Claire had sex with that dude last night as a part of her research for her latest book. “A common garden variety slut,” is how Noel describes Claire in the midst of her frustration. The two of them just can’t seem to get passed their difference — which means they’re definitely going to f*ck soon.
Back in the group of all the women, Claire shows feminist support of Noel and it seems they might be bonding. Three of the women who find themselves in the kitchen are suddenly struggling with their confusion of Noel’s attractiveness and lesbianism.
“Maybe she was abused or something,” one woman says. “Personally, I think it’s a defect of nature,” southern Tara says.
As Claire and Noel decompress after the meeting, it’s clear they’re definitely starting to feel attracted to each other and Claire subtly comes out as sexually fluid or bi+ to Noel. We experience several scene changes of the two bonding when it lands on them in a bar listening to acoustic music reminiscent of Melissa Etheridge. Their conversation is poetic and incredibly dramatic.
To be perfectly honest with y’all, as their attraction grows, the film gets pretty boring. They spend a lot of time talking about intimacy, desire, homosexuality, casual sex and intellectualizing everything. There are long and dreamy eye gazes. But other than that, it’s pretty slow moving with a lot of dramatic piano music playing in the background.
And just when you think it’s about to get steamy between the two of them, you realize it was just Claire having a sex dream about Noel.
The buildup is taking too. damn. long.
Meanwhile, the women at the retreat can’t stop fighting over the semantics of romantics between heterosexual and lesbian relationships. It’s long and drawn out. There are two clear sides: the straight homophobic women and the lesbian separatists (ahem — Maggie). At one point during the arguments, Maggie wonderfully says “If you eat pussy, you eat pussy.” Can that be made into a bumper sticker, please?!
And yes, Claire is still contemplating her bisexuality. In case you were wondering.
I’m not really sure what’s happening at this point in the film. Claire and Noel seem to be playing a game on their beds every night and sharing each others’ fantasy/novel ideas. Basically, they’re f*cking random people in their fantasies and verbally explaining what they want to do to each other.
WHY AREN’T THEY F*CKING YET?!
And then one of the straight women gets dumped by her husband so all the women stay in the cabin and drink tequila shots on a Saturday night. All I can think is, will this be the night Claire and Noel hook up or at least make out?!
Okay, they’re dancing now. It’s happening! It’s getting real gay up in here with all these high waisted jean and turtleneck clad women grinding to horrible 90s jams!
At this point, I think my roommates must think I’m really weird because I’m blaring this movie in my living room on a random Wednesday night (the soundtrack is truly the kind of 90s cheesy music you hate to secretly love). Oops.
When they get back to their cabin tipsy off tequila, Noel asks Claire “Do you even know what you want?” and Claire says “Maybe you can help me figure that out, Doc.” Noel obvi says she doesn’t f*ck with straight women, meanwhile she’s totally into her! Then they start talking about Noel’s “vampire theory” of seduction that revolves around “converting” someone to be a lesbian.
And just when I got my hopes up, Noel says the most bi-phobic thing: “I never play around with women who straddle both sides of the fence.”
Then Claire starts to call her on her bullshit. “You can’t look me in the eye, can you? You’re afraid of me.”
Yet another night they don’t make out or explore their OBVIOUS desire for one another. I feel sexually frustrated for both of them. Clearly, Claire feels the same because she’s masturbating in the next scene (with dramatic piano music, of course) while Noel sits on the beach contemplating queer theory again.
There are some weird scene montages of Claire dramatically sitting in the ocean crying over bisexuality and her desire for Noel. Then FINALLY they make out on the beach and go back to their cabin to f*ck. (It feels important to note than Noel was wearing a jean jacket and Claire a worn-down leather jacket. So gay. I love.) Phew, I almost thought the film was going to end without either of them making the first move.
Overall, I would rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars. It has the classic slow lesbian buildup but when the sex scene finally happens, it’s steamy (including slow motion dramatic orgasms). Judith Butler fans will absolutely love this film because the majority of it is spent delving into queer theory of the 90s.