Director: Andreas Ahn. Cast: Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Matt Rogers, Margaret Cho, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Zane Phillips. 105 minutes.
Which is more radical: reinvent the canon or abolish it altogether? That is the enduring question fire islanda strange, modern update of pride and prejudice – one that dismissed Jane Austen’s marriage plan as “straight nonsense” right in the opening scene. Written by and starring comedian Joel Kim Booster, the rom-com doesn’t make the most of his imagination. Structurally its story is a little too reverent to the original novel, so that for example cluelesskeeps turning Emma was not.
But it’s undeniably compelling to watch fire island Question Austen’s social commentary – particularly the ideas of “pride” and “prejudice” – in the context of contemporary gay culture. The intellectual battles here take place not in the intimacy of an aristocratic ballroom, but in the glass-walled clubs and summerhouses of Long Island, the famed gay travel destination. The Isle of Title is where New Yorkers can find that rare escape from the suffocating smog of heteronormativity. But that doesn’t immediately make it a paradise for everyone. As Kim Booster’s Noah pointed out early on — mostly for the benefit of straight viewers — “Race, manhood, abs [are] just some of the metrics we use to divide ourselves into upper and lower classes.” Someone casually brings up the fact that Grindr is still plagued by bios that unashamedly demand “no fats, no women, no Asians”.
fire island, is at its core an exploration of how two friends – Noah and Bowen Yang’s Howie – internalize these prejudices and allow them to shape their own perceptions of themselves. When we first meet Noah, he’s about to kick a sex partner out of his apartment because he has too much boyfriend energy. He’s decided that the only way to never get hurt is to never take things too seriously. And you know what? It works for him. Meanwhile, Howie’s self-esteem has almost completely shriveled. He has never been in a relationship, although he secretly longs for romantic perfection.
Noah, Howie and their “sisters” – their found family – head to Fire Island, dubbed here as “Gay Disney World,” for their annual vacation. But the news that her older, matriarchal lesbian friend Erin (Margaret Cho) has to sell her longtime home on the island sends the entire group into crisis mode. Director Andrew Ahn lovingly shoots the film’s central setting, all sun-toned and blurred. But the film doesn’t make us forget that those dreamy days are slipping quickly out of these men’s hands. Soon they will have to face the rest of their lives.
So Noah is determined in a way Emma-Similar way to make sure Howie gets laid at the end of the trip. In fact, he’s made it a priority over his own pleasure, as perfect as the object of his affection – newcomer Dex (Zane Phillips), a hunk who’s read Dossie Eastons The ethical bitch – Is likely to have the appearance. Luckily, Howie bumps into very picky Charlie (James Scully) almost immediately, although you have to get your hands on him with his rich, white, rude, polo-wearing clique to woo him. Perhaps the most snobbish of these is Will (Conrad Ricamora), a perpetually annoyed lawyer who doesn’t even sneak around.
Will, as you might have guessed, here is the Mr. Darcy character. But even in Austen’s novel, the idea of a walking red flag with a prince’s secret heart was already playing out as a high-flying fantasy. That doesn’t necessarily mean to translate fire island‘s world otherwise populated by down-to-earth, recognizable people. It’s nice to see that Yang in particular is already an outstanding player Saturday night liveyou get so rich material to work with.
But it should be said that what is layered and complex on paper looks so sweet, breezy and fun on screen. There’s one particularly good scene where the cast argues about the relative cultural relevance of Marisa Tomei versus Alicia Vikander. fire island is a true escapist rom-com at a time when audiences are still malnourished when it comes to queer romances that don’t end in death and despair. In fact, I like to think that Jane Austen would agree with all this “straight nonsense”.
Fire Island begins streaming Friday, June 3 on Disney+ in the UK and Hulu in the US
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/fire-island-film-disney-plus-hulu-review-b2092543.html Fire Island Movie Review: A cute, queer romcom that takes a cue from Jane Austen’s ‘straight nonsense’