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by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday May 12, 2010
Laura Harring and Jill Marie Jones star in Drool
Laura Harring and Jill Marie Jones star in Drool  (Source:Slamdance Films)

Writer-director Nancy Kissam's Drool is both farcical and deadly serious; in a word, Drool is droll.

Anora (Laura Harring) is married to Cheb (Oded Fehr), whose rage and despair he channels into a brusque and callous demeanor. Anora fantasizes about a version of Cheb that is romantic and attentive; in real life, Cheb is dismissive and even threatening--especially when he learns from young son Little Pete (Christopher Newhouse) that Anora has a new best friend in African American next-door neighbor Imogene (Jill Marie Jones), a "Kathy K" beauty products dealer. After only a few coffee klatches and beauty sessions, Anora's fantasies shift to Imogene--and it's only a matter of time until the racist, homophobic Cheb discovers that his home harbors a forbidden spark of lesbian love.

Meantime, daughter Tabby (Ashley Duggan Smith) is busy falling in love with handsome classmate Denny (Dalton Alfortish), though she's rather break up with him after a casual blow job than admit her feelings. (He, on the other hand, proclaims that he "loves her until his heart hurts.") All these elements, together with Little Pete's emerging homosexuality, could have fueled a funnier, lighter film.

Instead, Kissam pivots the entire story on a sudden outburst of violence; from there, the movie grows increasingly strange and surreal, involving an impromptu interstate car trip that plays like the family vacation from Hell. The characterizations seem dead-on realistic: everyone is freaked out and crabby. At the same time, there's an air of outlandish possibility, as though we'd veered deeper into Anora's dream life. As everything--props, car, costume, surroundings--get more and more purple, so, too, does the story.

Anora, Imogene, and the kids end up--like refugees, more or less--at the manse of beauty product queen Kathy K herself (Ruthie Austin), as though the film is poking fun at the idea that a little blush and eyeliner can fix just about any problem. And indeed, that does seem to be the message; even a corpse that the newly bound lesbian lovers need to dispose of is treated like a minor problem that can literally be glossed over.

That doesn't mean the film doesn't have a certain power about it; it's a celebration of female strength, as Kathy K, with her fabulous house, submissive (an muscular) house boys, and back yard full of dead husbands makes abundantly clear. You could think of this as an alternative version of Thelma and Louise, if they'd got away with it (and had an endless supply of lipstick and foundation readily at hand).

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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