Cloudburst at Polari Print E-mail
Friday, 05 October 2012 06:03


By Juan Molina

Cloudburst was presented as the opening film of the Polari festival, formerly aGLIFF - the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival. Sporting a star cast (including two Academy Award Winners), great writing and an acclaimed director (Thom Fitzgerald), it should by all rights have a mainstream release in its future. In an early scene, Stella (Olympia Dukakis) narrates a sunset to her blind partner of 31 years, Dottie (Brenda Fricker); when Dottie asks Stella to describe what she sees in the clouds, Stella replies "two nuns and a beagle riding a donkey." That's the movie in brief. Stella and Dottie are far from nuns;  Stella's brazen humor and pluck drive this road movie that, despite parodic parallels to "Thelma and Louise", does not drive off a cliff. Dottie falls off the bed and sprains her ass while Stella is tickling her with a vibrator, prompting Dottie's aggressively oblivious grand-daughter to dupe her into signing documents that commit Dottie to a nursing home. Stella, enraged, breaks Dottie out; thus begins a romantic journey to Canada where the two can legally marry. On the way they pick up a solitary male hitchhiker (newcomer Ryan Doucette), the second-act twist who turns out to be more than the J.D. to their Thelma and Louise, or the Tommy Williams to their Andy Dufresne and Red.

Olympia Dukakis shines as Stella, an uncompromising elder lesbian who shouts obscenities in the face of adversity with consistently hilarious results.  On the lam in a diner, when a waitress hints that she recognizes them, Stella asserts, "If your skirt was any shorter, you'd need another hairnet."  She's a fountain of unabashedly ribald humor throughout the film. Cloudburst is a thoroughly fun romp. Plenty of great one-liners, and physical comedy that tops the "Boogie Nights" naked-man-chasing-a-car scene. The ending was somewhat disappointing (I won't give away any spoilers); like most road movies, the journey is much more satisfying than the destination. All this with a compelling implicit message about the social justice issues that tell us gay marriage needs to be legalized everywhere, specifically because of how it impacts the rights of society's elders with regard to inheritance and hospitalization.

For information on the Polari Film Festival, click here

Watch a clip from Cloudburst (WARNING!! There is vulgar language).