Sometimes it's the smallest stories that land with the most power. That was certainly the case when I saw Georgia Oakley’s understated directorial debut about a lesbian physed teacher living in late '80s Newcastle. The story takes place right when Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government introduced the Section 28 designation, a series of laws that prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality" by local authorities across Britain. Jean (Rosy McEwen in a captivating, internalized performance) is a divorcee living a double life. She's out with her friends but closeted at work and with most of her family—her sister knows and accepts her lifestyle but still wishes things were different. When an outspoken new student (Lucy Halliday) arrives at school and threatens to expose her sexuality, Jean feels pressure from everyone in her life to face difficult choices she's too emotionally paralyzed to confront properly. The parallels between the England of 1988 and the vision of America that many are working to regress us back to land forcefully despite the film's subtle, nuanced approach. This is an excellent example of why period pieces are often the best vehicles to comment on contemporary times.
Georgia Oakley’s directorial debut about a lesbian teacher forced to live a double life in late-'80s Newcastle lands with tremendous power by recalling a destructively closeted era many parts of the civilized world are regressing back to.