In 83 John Sayles turned to a human story about finding one’s self for Lianna, and keeping with his independent nature he choose to focus on the sexual realization of a woman. Lianna is unhappily and finds a connection with her night school professor and then begins a lesbian relationship with the woman…
I felt Sayles handled the subject with much grace and though the film is unpolished, is it honest and well made. Homosexuality, especially lesbians, were still basically ignored in films and to a degree in novels (though the Tales from the City are great and I highly recommend the series) in the early 80s, yet Sayles did not shy from the subject and wrote a great script that seemed Real. Hollywood would have tried to sexy up the picture if they dared take on the subject and would have changed the ending.
Though the actors were not unattractive at all, they were not movie starts and that just added to realistic nature of the film.
My favorite scene was when Lianna tells Dick about sleeping with a woman and the fight that ensues, culminating with Dick alone in the room, not knowing truly how to deal with situation.
Please, comment on what you all thought.
It does a fair job with academia.
For me tho, there are so many better films with similar themes (after this film), and this one had a sense of real life (despite bad comic relief) but no power in its drama.
I really wanted to like it since I like Sayles (esp. after I found out he wrote Breaking In) but I can’t say much good about it sorry uli
Den, that is disappointing, but it’s okay. I may have to unfollow you though :-)
well, I was about to unfollow you for picking the film (:
kidding its not bad or anything, Heroic was just a touch better imo
Uli—thanks for showcasing this film, one I’d never heard of before. I thought it was good and my favorite scene was the same one you mentioned. Not hard to imagine that conversation actually taking place in some unassuming home in America.
Sayles has a varied oeuvre from what I’ve seen so far and I’ve barely begun to sample it.
Uli, are you secretly a wife who is upset with her husband? You sure seem to have an affinity for many films with this theme. I’d say this is the third one you’ve presented.
This was an interesting story idea, but the execution wasn’t that great. It seems like a film that Todd Solondz might have watched and said to himself “I can do something like that better” and then he did.
Interesting to see Chris Elliot for two seconds with HAIR. And with some of the most rediculous hair I’ve ever seen!
And I was also laughing and wondering what Dimitris thought of this line:
“Last time you went to a film festival, you got a headache during the Eastern Europeans.”
I enjoyed it. It didn’t overly impress me but I came out with a generally positive impression. The dialog is a little hackneyed, and that’s one thing I have trouble forgiving a film for. But I appreciated the characters and the emotional themes. I like that it covered the topic of homosexuality before it was fashionable to do so, and it did so in a way that’s far from idealized, with a focus on individual characters.
Ris, I’m just an opened minded guy. And if you look at most of the films with female protagonist, they are crap-ass romantic comedies, so it’s good to see something with more substance. But I will add that I think I would have made one hell of a lesbian.
And if you look at most of the films with female protagonist, they are crap-ass romantic comedies, so it’s good to see something with more substance.
It is true. These films are obviously a reaction to that, which is good. It will be nice though when films can just have a female protagonist that aren’t clearly reacting against some other genre of film.
But I will add that I think I would have made one hell of a lesbian.
Go for it man. I’m not here to stand in the way of your fantasies! ;)
Well, dyin’ time is almost here.
Dead film walkin’
Alright, small revival of this thread before my turn to post, close to my match….this film has been heavily criticized for…what reasons? I haven’t heard any valid reasons whatsoever. Was anyone bothered it focused on homosexual environment and relations mostly? Or did someone try to compare it as a female Brokeback Mountain of sorts (no plotline and shit, just the essence of the film talking about homosexuality)
For what it’s worth, Johnson was right when he said Sayle’s best cinematic “game” is when his matters don’t become overly political, underlining a left-handed boast of ideals and they’re at their top score when their subject matter collects thoughts and behaviors of a realistic tapestry, without any extreme climax in the course of the film. That’s what Lianna is about. It’s more realistic when you think that even though it discusses a woman’s attachment to her authentic values in a U.S. town, it may as well be the same nearby your home, a neighbour, familiar face, relative, any person that doesn’t let him or herself free from the social chains, the taboo stigma.
Lianna’s independence refuses the typicalities of “struggling on my own” intermezzo and right after her will overcomes her shyness, she attempts to master her new “identity”, that is her personal beliefs, the ones even her husband wouldn’t believe they exist, he being the cinema know-it-all, the cultural and open-minded modern parent. Surely the environment’s condition has altered, her children copying with their mother’s sudden decision, her lover’s denial of their affair anymore, her closest friend’s trust. All that sounds mushy? It’s more clinical than one thinks (minus the specific song / theme of the film, deteriorating our attention span, hehe) and It’s a pity Linda Griffiths didn’t move on to more films afterwards. Her presence was terrific to say the least.
Sorry for the comment delays, life has been catching up on me lately.
“I haven’t heard any valid reasons whatsoever.”
I’ve already stated my reasons, which are completely valid…
The acting is often unimpressive to say the least, but occasionally veers into the realms of very bad, whilst stylistically I’m not with the film at all. I like the low budget aesthetic of the film, but it just makes the horrendously cheesy and tacky usage of music seem even more out of place. As far as the film is concerned thematically I give the film major props for trying to tenderly tackle subject matter that during its day was considered controversial but the story itself often seems very run of the mill just with the slight difference that the main character is homosexual, whilst the scenes where characters talk about how they feel about homosexuality though sometimes reasonably handled often feel very simplistic or stretching to try and help the audience understand about homosexuality which can feel condescending when viewed by a modern audience that I would hope are generally accepting of different sexualities (I might be being idealistic though).
Also add to that a very correct point that Blue pointed out, that some of the characters (the husband for example) can end up seeming very two-dimensional in order to service Sayles’ ideas.
Visitor Q has very bad acting, not Lianna ;)
The husband two-dimensional? I found him to be honest stubborn and elaborately tricky in his traits by manipulating any moves and opinions in favor of his own. I don’t think Lianna’s subject execution is on par to an….Imagine Me and You sensitivity, it’s far more frank and “frightening” compared to some of Sayles’ later efforts. Calling it naive is like linking the film to the romantic comedy genre.
Was the mustache that Sayles’ own character was wearing supposed to be highly masculine in that day? Watching it now it looks like the gayest thing in the movie! HA!
I was impressed by how Sayles, designed the sound. There is no transition between scene and scene: Sound just gets cut by the new scene. It’s a distancing proceeding in order to reinforce the permanent intention of refusing the extreme or contundent climax that Dimitris pointed out. Music was there, only as part of the women’s pub or the dancing couple’s performance. When Lianna and Ruth make love, we can hear a whispers’ sound collage, transforming the whole situation into something else. The unrealistic moment of the film.
In Lianna, Consecuences of actions are not inmediate. That’s why most of scenes end without any radical change of mood or character. Contrary to melodrama, where there are several secrets and painful revelations, Sayles avoids extreme anagnorisis too: Lianna, talks openly about what’s going on in her life. Her son, Spencer, talks openly about homosexuality when his father tries to tell him and Dita about their mother. Even Ruth reveals herself to Lianna and tell her about her past relationship, not as a secret but as information, almost in the same way that Lianna told Dick about her affair.