You were promised an intense and fevered discussion of bad gay movies; now you shall reap the whirlwind. We begin with 2001’s Lost and Delirious, a truly terrible movie about girls falling in love at the world’s least carefully monitored boarding school. First, let us meet the cast of characters. Myself and Nicole you already know.
From our Autostraddlin’ counterparts: “Riese Bernard, Laneia Jones and Rachel Kincaid are the editors of Autostraddle, where they write about themselves, each other, you and almost everything else that’s interesting and related to being a queer woman. Cumulatively, they have garnered two children, half an MFA, two dogs, one cat, publication credits including Jezebel, The Awl, Thought Catalog, Nerve, Marie Claire and Curve; five copies of Bastard out of Carolina and about fifteen dollars.”
For a summary of Lost and Delirious, if you have not already seen it, kindly hie yourself to Wikipedia. We do not, sadly, have time to discuss the incredibly odd (and murderous!) book upon which the movie is very loosely based, but I strongly recommend reading it, then trying to spot all the differences in the adaptation.
LOST & DELIRIOUS PROS
- Piper Perabo makes an excellent soft butch
- Remember when Piper Perabo fell in love with Cersei in that English movie? That was great
- Piper Perabo stabs a guy in the leg with a fencing foil
- There’s a falcon!
LOST & DELIRIOUS CONS
- Oh, gosh.
Mallory: How many lesbian movie cliches did you spot? The treacherous femme, the psycho dyke, the lesbian teacher in oxford shirts and the gay suicide finale are all givens.
Riese: Mischa Barton is a lesbian movie cliche in and of herself.
Nicole: General girl movie cliche! Trying to find someone to sit with in the cafeteria, and then disgrace being communicated by no longer being able to sit with those people.
Laneia: Can jogging and wearing your hair in braided ponytails be a cliche?
Riese: Interrupting the Dance To Be Gay. Caught Naked In Bed Being Gay. Femme Finds Boyfriend Immediately To Prove Heterosexuality.
Laneia: Ugly crying after you lie about how much you love the person you love.
Riese: Alternative Lifestyle Haircut Conversation.
Rachel: Dramatic Change Into Menswear.
Laneia: kd langover.
Riese: Absentee Mother, Liberated by Literature.
Mallory: Did Paulie die at the end, or did she turn into a falcon?
Rachel: Paulie is definitely falcons.
Riese: I think she turned into a Falcon but then like, kinda flew around for a while and got super bored and wished she’d rethought it
Laneia: I feel like she splatted onto the actual ground and no one cared, so they just watched the falcon bc FALCONS.
Nicole: I mean, if there had been paramedics right there, she might have only been horribly mangled! She was probably dead, but literally no one ran over to check.
Mallory: Did the fact that Paulie at one point mentioned offhandedly to Tori that “it’s not the fifties anymore. It’s the twenty-first century!” make it better or worse that everyone STILL acted like it was the 1950s?
Laneia: Only “worse” things happened in this movie. So, worse.
Riese: Everything that happens happens to make the movie worse than it was a minute earlier. “It was all I could do not to put Indian corn on the door today” – Marni Kellison.
Nicole: Worse. Ugh, the poisonous little sister played by Emily VanCamp. And we don’t even have scenes where Tori’s parents actually demonstrate their homophobia. Like, are we talking “we’ll throw you out” or “we’ll have to send you to a more restrictive boarding school where students spend some time in actual classes and less time acting out psychosexual dramz.”
Mallory: Who was your Paulie? How much do you miss her?
Laneia: My Paulie was ******* and I don’t miss her a fucking bit.
Riese: I dunno. Maybe a lot of people; some of whom I miss and some of whom I don’t.
Laneia: The 90s really made me feel like I needed a Paulie, but really it wasn’t as necessary as we thought, turns out.
Riese: Yeah, because what good is a girl who turns into a bird?
Rachel: I guess if we’re talking about emotional significance it was ***** and I still think about it more often than never. But also, maybe the 90s were my Paulie. Maybe the 90s were Paulie for all of us.
Nicole: No one has ever felt that strongly about me. I really seem to spark profound indifference in women.
Mallory: Who was your Tori? How much do you still irrationally resent her?
Rachel: Kill, fuck, marry: Paulie, Tory, and Mouse. I feel like by virtue of having a Paulie, that makes me my Tori.
Riese: Rachel is her own Tori.
Laneia: If I have a Tori, I don’t resent her.
Rachel: And/or every girl in college ever.
Mallory: Why did this school have zero mental health services?
Laneia: I thought everywhere was like that?
Riese: Oh, god no. There’s no way they would’ve let that go on. I mean they’re very liable for things?
Rachel: I feel like the assumption is that if you have a chicken kiev lobster buffet, you don’t need mental health services
Riese: People tried to kill themselves at [my boarding school], but nobody succeeded! Boarding school is a really intense environment in a lot of ways and so they’re very very on top of that kind of thing. And she was clearly having a manic break, it was weird that like, nobody thought to do anything. That didn’t bother me the first time I saw it, but now it’s just like another thing that makes me roll my eyes at this movie for being so stupid.
Laneia: If it did have regular mental health services, I feel like Paulie would’ve been shut down after she tossed the lunch cart.
Mallory: Why was Graham Greene in this movie? He’s an Academy Award nominee! He was in The Green Mile!
Laneia: “Every white girl needs a brown person to help her through being a white girl.”
Rachel: Because everyone knows you can’t have Nature in your film without casting a token First Nations actor!
Nicole: He’s Canadian. Everyone in this movie is Canadian, and it’s shot in Canada. He’s famous here, and also in Twilight. Also, you know, he’s in touch with the EARTH. GARDENING.
Mallory: What qualifies Lost and Delirious as a truly terrible gay movie?
Nicole: Lesbian suicide. If they’d made The Celluloid Closet a few years later, this could have been in the “lesbians dying” montage, which included that chick having a tree fall on her.
Laneia: They played the full Ani song with nothing but crying to support it. Like, I could see that in my mirror. No thank you.
Riese: All abstractions, no meat. They beat a dead horse; the tried-as-fuck method of linking literature studied in english class to Real Feelings In The Characters Real Lives. Instead of hearing about a genuine emotional transformation or pain or sadness or heartbreak, we get a bunch of bird stories and Shakespeare.
Rachel: The actual true sad story of girls who want to be in love but are scared to be gets obscured by like, eighteen different thematic elements that take the place of an actual story. Also, the decision to ultimately make it about/frame it through the straight girl.
Laneia: Yes! What the hell?
Riese: Yeah, the movie never made a case for having Mouse narrate.
Mallory: What aspects of L&D made you kind of love it the first time you saw it anyway?
Nicole: I have a really intense obsession with Jessica Paré, to be honest. This is that thing where the women I think are The Most Beautiful are just perfected versions of me, like, ghost-white with dark hair and blue eyes and big tits. So it’s her, Cobie Smulders, Liv Tyler.
Rachel: The girl I was sitting next to whose idea it was to watch it.
Riese: Girls had sex in it, I think that’s about it.
Rachel: That was literally it. Oh wait, also the Ani song.
Laneia: I tried to see it after I came out, so I actually hated it the first time, and never made it to any sex.
Riese: I really hated it right away.
Mallory: Why didn’t Paulie just start dating Mouse? Mouse was a highly suggestible person. She could’ve just made Tori crazy jealous and gotten a much nicer girlfriend in the process.
Nicole: Mouse sucked and was unnecessary to the movie. They just wanted a non-dyke character to center the action.
Riese: Because that wouldn’t have been terrible, and the point of this movie is to be terrible.
Laneia: Paulie is completely all about Paulie, and being Paulie means being crazy, which means you can’t have a nice girlfriend — you can only have horrible experiences and falcons.
Rachel: Because Mouse was just a wooden doll until she saw someone getting fucked up against a tree poorly.
Riese: Right, yeah, she hates/loves the darkness.
Laneia: Sidenote — Have you ever had sex against a tree, ever?
Nicole: No. I’ve had failed beach sex and failed “sex against an outdoor wall at the Getty Museum and asked not to return.”
Riese: No! it’s impossible! Bark! BARK! Dirt, bark, wet trees, wet dirty painful bark.
Laneia: IT’S IMPOSSIBLE.
Riese: I mean, I’ve made out in the woods. But lifting a girl up and fucking her with her back against a TREE is basically BDSM.
Laneia: For PIV sex, I mean. You can totally have DIGITAL SEX against a tree, I think.
Riese: Yeah, for sure, it’s the lifting that’s the problem.
Rachel: Also, depending on the tree there’s very little point of contact with the trunk to hold yourself up against.
Riese: Because it means she has to rely on the tree for support. Which means she has to be really hard up against it and that would hurt.
Laneia: Also, there are bugs in trees. I just want to put that out there. They fall in your hair. Scorpions, for example. Ants. Beetles.
Riese: One last thing. I have to share with you a comment I read about this movie once, just so we can get an alternate take.
“As for Lost and Delirious, I would rank that film up there with Almodovar’s Talk To Her, Malick’s The New World, Lynch’s Inland Empire, Linklater’s Before Sunset, Van Sant’s Gerry, and Martel’s The Headless Woman as among the top films of the decade. What Pool does is take the cliche and flip it on itself without changing the fate which in and of itself is a difficult proposition. To top it off, Pool decides on no distancing tools and instead embraces the emotionalism of the individual (the embrace of such hothouse emotions carries over to the purposely heavy use of symbolism – the cliches are appropriated for the heroine to revel in – instead of being condemned to be applauded). The film therefore becomes that most bewildering of species, a coming of age story that radically shifts into a document of the destruction of idealism. In many ways it may be the single most angry statement against homophobia ever put on screen. If seen solely for plot, and without a consideration of it’s deconstruction of the evil lesbian plotline or it’s emphatic use of metaphor being in service of that deconstruction, it could be seen as just another lesbian tragedy. However most persons that love the film see it as exhilarating, a repudiation of the exploitative and a statement about how conformity is the true villain.”
Rachel: Oh, my god.
Riese: Mm-hmm. Love you guys!