In 1987, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, speaking at the Conservative Party Congress, referred to public panic over books in children’s libraries, stating, “Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are non-negotiable. We are taught that we have rights,” he said. being gay. Thatcher’s views were soon adopted into British law, and in 1988 the government Ban Promoting homosexuality in schools. The movie “Blue Jean” is set in this oppressive era. Thatcher’s proclamation blares in the background as the film’s protagonist Jean (Rosie McEwen) alternates between her life as a lesbian and her life as a high school gym teacher.
By the time the film begins, Jean is already divorced and struggling to come out to a barely tolerant family. Her hair is bleached and her clothes are masculine, yet she is establishing her own life as a queer. In contrast, Gene is in love with Viv (Kelly Hayes), a buzz-cut, punk-clad, out-lesbian. Viv feels safe with herself and other gay people. Her many friends in Viv look a little suspicious of her Gene as a jumpy newcomer to a lesbian club.
Gene seems more confident in the classroom. Her demeanor as a teacher is as sassy and frosty as her hair color. She keeps firm boundaries against her own sins of her adolescence, insists on being quick in her locker room, and easily ignores her youthful disobedience.
But the arrival of a new student, Lois (Lucy Halliday), throws Jean’s balance upside down. Lois becomes the target of Jan’s brightest student, who bullies her by suggesting to the class that Lois is a lesbian. Lois half-heartedly tried to deny the accusation at first, but soon realized that his fists made for a better defense.
It is Gene’s professional responsibility to settle disputes between students. But as a victim of discrimination, Jean feels her social obligation to participate and exercise her powers to ensure that young people are neither victims nor perpetrators of homophobia. This responsibility of hers upsets Gene and even disrupts her life with her Viv, but her film uses her fear to bring out her genuine emotions and dramatic conflict. there is In several scenes, Jean appears to spontaneously develop hives during a conversation about lesbian aggression, a credit to the film’s make-up team and McEwen’s dedication to acting. .
Georgia Oakley, the film’s writer and director, has done a fine job in many ways. “Blue Jean” is a great look, perfect for the period details, from the rough 1980s haircuts to the musical choices of the New His Order to the neon gender his symbols in his lesbian bar. But what’s most striking about the film is its nuanced understanding of how political situations shape different areas of life. Jean is a character who unobtrusively and discreetly navigates between worlds that are unaware of each other. Her public life and her private life overlap, and Gene carries both like fragile cargo. Too many dishes can cause the entire tray to crumble.
Unrated. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. at the theater.