Blue Jean

Blue Jean
Blue Jean
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Blue Jean is a debut film by Georgia Oakley that made waves on the festival circuit and received a BAFTA nomination, eventually winning People’s Choice Award from Venice Film Festival. This also resulted in four British Independent Film Awards, championing Rosy McEwen into a breakthrough performance. Like Moonlight and The Power of the Dog before it, Blue Jean effectively captures a moment in time where its main character is a turning point.

The law proposed by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in Blue Jean takes place in England 1988 and makes headlines for stigmatizing gays and lesbians. None of this sits well with Jean (McEwen), who teaches physical education but now feels compelled to lead two lives at once. She does not really need it much though. While Jean prefers creeping towards dark corners trying to hide who she is, her girlfriend Viv (Kerrie Hayes) goes the other way round. She is out there for everyone to see! When Lois (Lucy Halliday), a new student comes into their lives, everything changes as her presence forces them to make decisions regarding whether they would continue being themselves or remain stuck in darkness forever. However dramatic Georgia Oakley’s film set in England may be, it sails into unknown emotional waters. The director speaks more through silence than via any spoken word amid an engrossing movie.

Georgia Oakley has written Blue Jean as well as based this story around the suggested English legislation that “prohibit[s] the promotion of homosexuality” which stood until 2003 in one form or another. Section 28 is what it was called, and sounds rather creepy like coming back to WWII when we were sending people into concentration camps again. It shows how far we have come with LGBTQ+ rights today even as this remains a harsh contrast, whilst always reminding us that extreme conservatism invariably narrows down human rights rather than broadening them.

This knocks your teeth out while you read. Jean is intrigued by Lois, rather than having a crush on her new student. One day, the girl pops up at a gay club as Jean hangs out with other lesbian friends – maybe it’s the young version of herself she sees in Lois. In this first meeting, Jean ignores her but this incident leaves her shaken and triggers subsequent events at school which mostly involve girls. Fueling the fire further is Siobhan (Lydia Page), a mean-spirited girl who makes cutting remarks about Jean and Lois respectively.

Observe how Oakley develops a steady rhythm in Blue Jean. Events and situations take slow shape before each scene transitions smoothly to another one. Eventually, glimpses from these characters’ lives reveal completely different people leading separate paths towards self-realization. All while that clause of the Local Government Act hopes to prohibit “the promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities across the entire United Kingdom. Putting this into perspective makes it seem unreal that such could happen today; on second thoughts though… Between recent Roe v Wade overturning and ongoing attempts to limit transgender rights in United States, Blue jean is both an enthralling period piece and a warning tale for all our times.

The actors taking on these roles and then some, disappearing into them is really thrilling. Cinema is not dead. It only appears little compared to the wild superhero movies. The director draws out so much subtlety from each of her cast. In this place, Lois played by Lucy Halliday is a joy- vulnerable yet hard-nosed, determined yet naïve. She nails the essence of teenage hope and anxiety.

Lydia Page has captured Siobhan’s fears convincingly. This girl looks familiar; we have encountered her somewhere in our lives before. Although more like an archetype than an overblown character, Page manages the role’s complexities pretty well. A group of scenes featuring Lois and Siobhan are so on-point that it could be said that both actresses deserve all the accolades they get in return for their performance. Playing Jean, Rosy McEwen gives a terrific performance here too.In one of her previous TV shows called The Alienist she could have been seen by you. As Blue Jean, her range is even wider.Take, for instance, how a master embodies her craft.

Eventually Section 28 was repealed through the efforts of great campaigners who fought against the conservative government’s regarding homosexuality as promotion or a pretended family relationship.” There are no such historical parts in Blue Jean but its final moments leave a very strong impact which can stay with you long after credits roll away

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