Call Me by Your Rosary Beads: A look back at Loving Annabelle by Cassie Nova

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As the gay love story Call Me by Your Name sweeps top honors this awards season, it seems that folks should be majorly and frequently discussing the lesbian answer to this quality but admittedly controversial drama.

It should be, all right–but of course it’s not!  This is a lesbian movie and thus gets universally ignored by just about everyone.  How many more people, do ya figure, see Brokeback Mountain as opposed to Desert Hearts?  Ah, but Cassie Nova has seen Loving Annabelle, the 2006 indie flick directed by Katherine Brooks and starring Erin Kelly and Diane Gaidry.

An older woman/younger woman romance, Loving Annabelle concerns a rebellious senator’s daughter who is shipped off to a Catholic boarding school; where she optimizes her rebellion by seducing her female teacher.

Annabelle–identified as a senior–and her teacher Simone engage in intellectual conversations regarding literature and the arts, along with their full spectrum of interpersonal relationships.  Both have experienced lesbian relationships, although Simone currently has a boyfriend; a kinda cute dude with whom she seems to really hate going to bed, or even talking to with any degree of intimacy.

They share longing looks and even retreat together to Simone’s beach house, where she shows Annabelle photos of her now deceased lesbian lover.  The two most literally sleep together without doing anything, then return to school.  Yet in the wake of a school party, one at which Annabelle practically serenades Simone with a folksy love song, the two escape to the teacher’s room for the film’s tasteful but rather descriptive love scene.

A thoughtful updating of the 1931 German film Madchen in Uniform, Loving Annabelle is intended as a gentler, more positive spin on the teacher/student relationship than its predecessor, which culminated with the attempted suicide of the student.  The film is quiet, tender, and totally nonexploitive; featuring as it does impressive performances from all involved.  Brooks directs the film to beautiful and masterful effect.

I almost feel at this point like the character of Cartman from South Park, awkwardly summarizing a review of a book he hasn’t read by saying, “It was a VERY GOOD book.”  Oh, I’ve seen Loving Annabelle all right, and it is indeed a very good movie; only, well, I’ll quote one of the esteemed critics featured on the Drunk Lesbians movie review show.

“I know I should be rooting for the lesbians but this is so inappropriate!”

Yep yep; I would have truly loved Loving Annabelle if the character of Annabelle had been a college senior; and while their relationship is completely consensual, I can’t help but to wonder as to how I would feel if Simone’s character had been a man.  I imagine a scenario involving me charging onto the scene with a louder than normal tone and an assortment of martial arts moves, all aimed at the guy teacher in question.

And one other thing. Marla flippin’ Maples is in this movie.  Just one scene, where she plays a friend of Simone. She’s good and everything and looks fantastic; but, it’s Marla flippin’ Maples.

On the positive side, Erin Kelly was in her mid-20s when the movie was filmed, and the film does portray the potentially serious consequences of a teacher/student involvement.  You don’t come away hating Simone, but I at least could not whole-heartedly champion the film’s central relationship.

Still, well; Loving Annabelle was a VERY GOOD movie.

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