Thursday, July 30

International Day of Friendship

Today is apparently International Day of Friendship, a day that I have never heard of and one that hopefully you don't have to buy gifts for. But as always, it's a fantastic excuse to talk about films and a genre/type (sub-genre? I don't know) that is close to my heart - films about female friendship. In my experience, the friendships that I have with other women are wonderful, and a wonderfully nuanced thing. Finding sisterhood and sameness, whilst also discovering subtle differences and growth in each other.

This quote from Tiger Beatdown is pretty much perfect in it's summation
There’s a weird, overwhelming, mind-meld effect that takes place sometimes between girls: you live in each other and through each other, always trying to figure out how you are the same and how you are different, and loving both the differences and the sameness.
Which is why I love seeing that intimacy and closeness reflected in films, regardless of what type of film I'm watching, friendship done right is what will immediately stand-out for me.

The Edge of Love

Technically, and loosely, based on David N.Thomas' book, Dylan Thomas: A Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow, anyone who has seen the film knows it's really about the chemistry and friendship between Thomas' wife Caitlin Macnamara and childhood friend Vera Phillips, played by Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley respectively. Dylan Thomas mostly ends up being an irritating side-show to the women's camaraderie, intimacy and the strength of their togetherness in the face of the war.

You can see more of The Edge of Love in the Film Inspiration post I did last July here.

Obvious Child

Marya E. Gates pretty much sums this film up for me.

"...the scenes with Jenny Slate and Gabby Hoffmann. When they hang out, Hoffmann brings her tea; they try on clothes and they’re throwing them at each other. I feel like one of the things that male directors tend to miss is how intimate women are with each other in female friendships. Women are more likely to hug each other, share clothes or say ridiculous things to each other that they don’t say in mixed company. A lot of that gets lost when men try to translate female friendship on to the big screen."  -- via The Guardian

I talk about Obvious Child quite a lot, and it's about so much more than main character Donna's (Jenny Slate) friendship with Gaby Hoffman's character Nellie, but their friendship is exactly what you'd want in the circumstances. Nellie is supportive, reassuring, comforting and most importantly without judgement, as Donna goes through with her abortion.

Obvious Child is currently available to view on Netflix.

Also, you can follow Mary E. Gates' A Year with Women here.

Frances Ha

I adore this film for so many elements - watching Frances gangling (almost literally) through New York, and her life,  finding affinity for her awkwardly 'undateable' nature, but a huge element is her development and transformation of her friendship with her other-half Sophie.

Each time I watch (and I've watched it a few times now) I interpret the friendship between Frances and Sophie a little bit differently; originally it felt like a relationship between someone who knew what they were doing (Sophie) and someone who she feels responsible for (Frances). Then it felt very one-sided, that Frances cared more about her friendship with Sophie more than, Sophie cared about her friendship with Frances. But now I'm a lot more sympathetic to the balance in their relationship, which I find quite true-to-life - like Frances' dance at the end of the film - your life never really falls into step with or mirrors that of your friends, but in the end kind-of works, as you somehow meet in the middle.

Frances Ha is available to view on Netflix.

Whip It

I mean technically, this is a sports film, but if I learnt anything in PE at school sport is all about coming together, figuring out each other's strengths and weaknesses and encouraging each other. Playing team sports is basically hanging out with friends, whilst wearing shin-pads.

But aside from the sporting element, Whip It is about Bliss (played by Ellen Page) finding confidence and figuring herself out alongside her friendship with her team mates and best friend Pash (played by Alia Shawkat); she begins the film as a meek, softly-spoken wallflower and ends as a confident and brassy Roller Derby player. Also, that bit at the end where the hot guy shows up after not calling her for months, and Bliss tells him how ridiculous he is and then is all 'whatever, I'm going to go be amazing at roller derby now' is perfect.

Romy and Michelle

Sometimes being friends with someone is about being ridiculous and stupid in the face of everyone else's cool and collected seriousness; In my eyes the perfect friendship is saying "Let's tell everyone we invented Post-Its" and the other person saying "Yeah. Why not?".

Every single one of my closest friendships are founded entirely on glances, in jokes and ridiculousness. And that is what Romy & Michelle is, a film entirely based on two best friends who realise that they are better and happier wallowing in their ridiculousness, rather than trying to fit in with every body else. They also spend their time inventing synchronised dance routines, which when I started a new school age 9 years old was exactly how I made friends - over a shared love of the Spice Girls no less.

If you are looking for more friendships between females to fill your international day of friendship, have a look through Letterboxd user Vanina's list here. Or you could just go old school and watch Thelma & Louise.

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