Identities 2017: AWOL

USA 2016
Written by Deb Shoval & Karolina Waclawiak
Directed by Deb Shoval
Watched on 14.06.2017

Every film festival has the right to one major fuck-up – and in case of Identities 2017, this was it (to be fair, though, at other festivals like Viennale and /slash I saw far worse worst movies than this one). “AWOL” is a dull, convoluted mess of a film that is only barely saved by the performances of its lead actresses, Lola Kirke and Breeda Wool.

Practically from the beginning, “AWOL” felt rather tedious to me. Both Joey and Rayna are only sketchily portrayed, and hardly ever felt like real characters to me. It certainly didn’t help that I didn’t much care for both of them, which got only worse over the course of the movie, since they make one horrible and inexplicable decision after the next, which made me shake my head repeatedly. I also didn’t much care about the ending, and would have preferred a different (not quite as bleak) tone. The fact that this was the nth “things end badly”-film between queer people that I saw at this year’s “Identities”-festival probably didn’t help it either. Sometimes it really seems like there are hardly any happy gay couples in movies and TV. What’s up with that? And to add insult to injury, as much as I liked both performances of Lola Kirke and Breeda Wool individually, I didn’t feel any real chemistry between them. Yes, in general, it’s well-acted, and there were a couple of nice images throughout. But when the characters act as dumb as they do here, that doesn’t help matters much.


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