Rose Troche's "Go Fish," which opens today at the Rotunda, is a kind of a lesbian "Dating Game." It's an illustration of E.M. Forster's famous mandate, "Only connect," but it also illustrates the inherent difficulty in such an order. At the same time it's funky, crude, funny, frankly carnal and kind of a rambunctious mess, and very very sweet. It's also in black and white.
Set in (and filmed in) the Chicago lesbian community, it's about a pretty young woman named Max who finds herself dateless and lost, but who learns to see beyond the tyranny of fashion (i.e. beauty). Her circle of friends gently guide her into a loving relationship with Ely (V.S. Brodie), herself a deeply conflicted woman who must learn to reach out.
The best moments in the film are the simplest. Troche has a good eye for naturalistic dialogue and the universal strain of first dates (my theory: Most people get married to avoid ever having to go on another first date). Max, played with earnest naivete by co-writer and co-producer Guinevere Turner, and Brodie's Ely, gangling and homely but radiant with wilted romantic yearning, make a wonderfully poignant, groping couple as they struggle to reach some sort of equilibrium.
Odd how despite the cultures, the rituals are the same: first shy kiss, the self-doubt afterward, the unwillingness to face each other (a little fear), the long period of self-examination and suddenly . . . together at last! Troche gets all this exquisitely.
A couple of stylistic gambits don't pay off. Troche intercuts the action with a kind of lesbian Greek chorus whom, photographed supine head to head in a kind of magic ring on the floor, comment on the events we've seen and the events we're about to see. It's an artifice wholly unnecessary.
And I could have done with a good deal less of the sanctimonious blowhard Kia (T. Wendy McMillan), who portentously mentors Max through her experience while issuing position papers on politically correct lesbian policy far too frequently. But for the most part, "Go Fish" is the real stuff.
Starring Guinevere Turner and V.S. Brodie
Directed by Rose Troche
Released by Goldwyn