but I know there are many people who do not haunt that
thread like the regulars, and that thread is 98% dominated
by discussions of gay male centric films, that I felt
Claire of the Moon deserved its own thread,
be that is may dissappear into the abyss that is the
days-old and not a new post threads of days gone by.
Mark’s DVD/Film Review:
Claire of the Moon
Street Date: September 24, 2002
Widescreen (approximately 1.85:1)
Dolby Digtial 2.0 sound
Audio Commentary with writer/director Nicole Conn and
Executive Producer Pamela S Kuri
Moments: The Making of Claire of the Moon
First Promotional and Theatrical Trailers
Behind the Scenes
More from Nicole Conn
More from Wolfe Video
View the trailer here:
For what seemed like the longest time, films that dealt
with lesbianism appeared to do so from a heterosexual point of view,
or, at least, with a heterosexual audience in mind.
But all of that changed with the release of
Claire of the Moon. Yes, there
had been earlier lesbian-centric films, like Desert Hearts,
but none have been so embraced by the lesbian community as
Claire of the Moon.
I remember when this film was released theatrically.
Most of my lesbian friends were raving about it being
the first dyke film that really captured everything about
them. I remember everyone from my 24 year old friend,
Patricia, saying how good it was, to my 63 year old boss,
Pearlann, quoting dialogue to me…the film touched these
(Pearlann’s favorite line from the film:
“When you eat pussy, you eat pussy.”
That phrase impacted this late-to-her sexual
awakening woman in a way I had never seen before
…and Pearlann was normally not the kind of
woman to use such language!)
But my big question
(before I went on one of the worst dates of my ‘relationship history’) was
“How well will this film will translate for non-dykes?”
(That question has never really been answered for me satisfactorily,
as I have heard wildly different opinions
of it from within the same groups of people,
be they gay men, straight women, or straight men.)
This is a gay women’s film,
written for gay women,
by a gay woman…and I suspect that the film
does loose some of its power when it is translated
for either gay men, or straight audiences….
(though I suspect that open-minded heterosexual
women will find it resonates better for them
than it does for either gay or straight men…
but I could be wrong.
The Plot: (without major spoilers)
Claire of the Moon is the story
of a woman, Claire, who comes to a writers’ retreat
on the Oregon coastline, Cannon Beach to be exact.
There she meets other female writers, and shares
a residence with Dr Noel Benedict, the lesbian
author of “The Naked Truth.” Claire had written
a respectable seller called, “Love can Damage your Hair,”
which even got her an appearance on Oprah.
Noel is searching for love an intimacy through research,
and Claire appears to be avoiding it by having
casual sex with the MEN in her environment...as a means
to show her feminine power...of which she has plently.
Maggie, the writers' retreat host, has deliberately
made these two seeminly different women cohabitate
in order to make Noel climb out of her shell. (Maggie
and Noel have known each other for several years.)
These women are very different.
Noel is rigid and dresses like a prig who has
spent too much money at The Gap,
and Claire is relaxed and goes with the
flow in her denim jeans and soft shirts.
Noel has short, nearly spiky, dark hair;
Claire has long flowing blonde hair.
These women are presented as opposites
that may or may not be on the same quest.
And the bicker and they argue, and the discuss
the nature of intimacy and relationships.
By placing these two women within the writers’
retreat environment, Nicole Conn was able to
successfully get these characters to talk
about communication and intimacy in a way
that in any other environment
(save for a psychiatrist’s office)
would seem highly artificial…and still there are
times when watching this film one can readily sense
Conn is merely using the characters as a vehicle
to pontificate about female-to-female intimacy.
Truth be told, the film (for me) bogs down
horribly during some those scenes…it is interesting
once, but upon repeat viewings, I find myself looking
for the fast forward button on my DVD remote.
But, the film more than makes up for its shortcommings
in the "realness" and intensity of the
struggles that Noel and Claire go through
in trying to achieve “real” intimacy.
(I've always called it, the "lesbian intensity thing"
which just means that all that communciating that usually
gets halved in male-to-female relationships, is frequently
doubled in female-to-female relationships, and I have
seen it over and over again...and this is the first film
I've seen that represents it well.
Will Noel get over her past lover?
Will she and Claire a relationship?
Well, this is a film, and the outcomes are predictable,
but this film makes it clear that it is the journey
that matters...a bit like asking what the plot is of
Ruby in Paradise...if you have to ask,
you missed the whole point.
As I was watching Claire of the Moon,
I was thinking about how gay women and men approach
the subject of apparently heterosexual objects of desire.
(Well, at least in film.)
Compare Claire of the Moon to
Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss and you get
a pretty clear idea of how, IN GENERAL, gay men
and lesbians approach the subject quite differently:
Billy yearns to get Gabriel into bed,
thinking that sex with Gabriel
will open up to the possibility of a
relationship between the two of them
…Noel and Claire spend the bulk of their film’s
narrative time chipping away at each other’s
psychological foibles…and the end result will probably
have little to nothing to do with physical consumation.
almost anti-climatic, except that their physical
intimacy is really just a representation of their
deeper feelings for each other…
(Which is something that I haven’t seen in a
gay male film since All Over The Guy).
As for other elements of the film,
the cinematography is fairly generic with the
exception of a few genuinely gorgeous shots of the
gals as they either stare at the coastline sunset,
or wander the beach.
The acting by all the principals is exceptional,
except I do find the periphereral actors’ performances
a bit strained, but I don’t think Conn really gave
the other authors at the retreat much to work with…
these characters feel like characters and not people.
(And with names like “Tara O’Hara” for the southern
belle who writes romance novels, one suspects
Conn intended for them to seem a bit extreme and artificial.)
The only other character that seems real is the host of the retreat, Maggie,
who is the kind of dyke that I
find so comforting to be around…
the kind who dispense with drama and bs…and say
it like it is…she also has many of the great
lines in the film.)
Finally, one should not fail to mention the beautiful
musical score by Portland's own Michael Allen Harrison,
which is more than just contemporary "beach music," but
the piano used to exspress feelings without being to
"new agey" about it.
All in all a remarkable film,
and it owes no one any apologies for
being a film intended for a select audience,
but still, I have to consider that
when recommending it to a larger, not lesbian community.
Wolfe has decided to give this film a
2 disc special edition for its 10 year anniversary,
which will be more than a welcome addition
in the homes of most the gay women I know.
But, I suspect that for most of you fellas,
this title will be a “rental only.”
As a final remark, I have always had a
soft spot for this film, because at one
point or another, I have bumped into the
principal actors around the Portland area.
The actress who plays Noel Benedict
(who looks so dyky in the film), never
pushed my “gaydar” button once when I ran into her
at the local supermarket
(we were both getting the recyclable bottles
out of our cars’ trunks)
…and she is blond, and relaxed, and funny!
I also caught her in a performance of
Six Degrees of Separation on the Portland stage,
which I thought she was fantastic in.
I also bumped into Trisha Todd (who plays Claire),
as we were both perusing the same rounder in The Gap
at Pioneer Place…I just looked at her, she smiled,
and I said, ”You were great in that film.”
She thanked me, shyly, and moved on to another rounder..
Such are the thrills to be had while living in a
"entertainment capital" (insert sarcasm) like Portland, Oregon.