'True Adventure' captures joy, wonder of young love


While "The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love" is about lesbians, it is more about adolescent romance.

Writer-director Maria Maggenti captures the goofy gazes, the breathless suspense, the belabored little notes inspired by first love. The characters are immensely likable, and the movie is cute, but it's also slow going until belated tension drives the film to a funny, frantic conclusion.

Laurel Holloman stars as Randy, an awkward, rough-edged teen-ager who works at a gas station and lives with her lesbian aunt, her aunt's lover and whoever else happens to be passing through. Obviously different, she's harassed at school and finds distraction in a flirtation with a married woman -- until Evie comes along.

Popular Evie, played by Baltimore native Nicole Parker, has been having trouble with her boyfriend and her Range Rover. ("Nice car," as everyone keeps saying.) She likes order; Randy thrives on chaos. Evie listens to classical music; Randy listens to rock. But they find each other irresistible -- opposites attract -- and strike up an unlikely friendship that turns into love.

As if sexual orientation weren't enough to tackle in a comedy, Randy is white and Evie is black, but none of the characters seem to notice. Their oblivion is actually a refreshing change from other color-conscious films.

Part of the pleasure of "Adventure" is watching the two characters try to connect despite their enormous differences. Randy invites Evie to dinner, knowing that her household is unconventional, to say the least, and likely to unnerve Evie. Evie gives a book of Walt Whitman's poetry to Randy, who reads it with innocent wonder, saying, "God, this is intense!"

One of the most striking scenes is when the two of them take Evie's car to the middle of a meadow and sit, listening to the "Dies Irae" in Mozart's Requiem thundering from the stereo, trying to understand what makes it magical. You can almost see restless, adolescent hormones coalescing in the air.

Both Holloman and Parker give charming, ingenuous performances that make their growing attraction convincing. And, thank goodness, there aren't neon signs above them saying "Look! Lesbians!" Maggenti, directing her first feature film, portrays their lives like anyone else's -- with family dinners, jobs, school and picky parents.

Of course, all of this bland routine is in need of a little disruption, and it doesn't come until late in the film, when the girls' families go a little bonkers and the tension leads to a very funny confrontation. Only then does Maggenti's film find its pace, fueled by whimsy and earnest young passion (not to mention Terry Dame's engaging music).

Maggenti's dedication, at the end of the film, is "For my first girlfriend. May our relationship finally rest in peace." Whoever she is, she's likely to think that "The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love" is a fitting valediction.

'The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love'

Directed by Maria Maggenti

Starring Laurel Holloman and Nicole Parker

Released by Fine Line

Rated R (nudity, language, sexual situations)

** 1/2

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