The Lovebirds (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): I’ve seen it before – but it’s okay anyway


“The Lovebirds” is so predictable and familiar to the bone that my mind kept experiencing moments of déjà vu when I watched it at last night. Right from the very beginning, I clearly discerned what I was going to get, and I was not so surprised much during the rest of the running time, but I frequently laughed as also appreciating the undeniable comic chemistry between its two talented lead performers.

The movie opens with the start of the romantic relationship between its two main characters. Although they initially met each other just for one night stand, Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) and Leliani (Issa Rae) find themselves attracted more to each other when they come to have a breakfast together outside in the next morning, and it surely looks like the beginning of a long relationship to both of them.

However, after four years, Jibran and Leliani are not as happy as they were at that time. Although they are soon going to attend together an evening party held at their mutual friend’s house, they constantly bicker with each other even when they are going there by their car, and then there eventually comes an inevitable moment when they face the possible end of their relationship as wondering how they have become so bitter and estranged to each other.


And then, as already shown in the trailer of the movie, something quite unexpected happens to Jibran and Leliani. Their car happens to hit a guy on his bicycle, and, to their bafflement, the guy runs away from the spot once he manages to stand up. Shortly after that, another guy appears, and Jibran and Leliani let this guy drive their car just because he claims to be a cop, but then, of course, that turns out to be a big mistake, and Jibran and Leliani soon find themselves on the run as the police subsequently search for them.

While it seems that there is no way out for them, Jibran and Leliani decide to take care of their messy situation for themselves, and that is the beginning of their bumpy and perilous journey around the city. Mainly thanks to a few things left by that unlucky bicycle guy, they get closer to what the hell is really going on, but, not so surprisingly, they also have to deal with a number of dangerous moments. At one point, they are forced to choose between hot, sizzling bacon oil and a hidden option of punishment which may be far worse than that, and all I can tell you is that this hilarious twisted scene will not disappoint you for a good reason.

I must point out that the movie automatically reminds me of many other similar comedy movies ranging from “Date Night” (2010) and “Game Night” (2018), but the screenplay by Aaron Abram and Brendan Gall, which is developed from the story written by them and their co-writer Martin Gero, keeps things rolling at least, and director Michael Showalter, who previously directed “The Big Sick” (2017), deftly balances the story and characters well between thriller and comedy. While the mood becomes tense and serious from time to time, the movie never loses its sense of fun and humor, and it is willing to be quite outrageous as shown from a sequence which is evidently influenced by, surprise, Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999).


And it surely helps that the movie is constantly elevated by its two lead performers. Kumail Nanjiani, who was alternatively funny and touching in “The Big Sick”, and Issa Rae, who is mostly known for her HBO TV series “Insecure”, click well with each other, and it is really fun to watch their incessant verbal clashes throughout the film. Yes, they sometimes go a little too far in their neurotic comic interactions, but Nanjiani and Rae also bring some gravitas and intelligence to their characters, and we come to root for their characters even as rolling our eyes due to their characters’ numerous silly moments such as when they clumsily attempt to break into a certain place for another clue.

The major weakness of the film comes from its rather flat supporting characters, who are more or less than plot tools to be used and then discarded. While Paul Sparks is menacing as required as the main villain of the film, he is mostly limited by his colorless functional role, and I was also disappointed that the movie under-utilizes two nasty supporting characters played by Anna Camp and Kyle Bornheimer, who definitely have a ball during their standout scene but do not have many things to do besides that.

Although it is one or two steps below “Date Night” and “Game Night”, “The Lovebirds” engaged and amused me enough during its 87-minute running time at least, and I think that is enough for recommendation. As many of you know, the movie was initially supposed to have its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in this March and then be released in US by Paramount Pictures in the next month, but, unfortunately, both its world premiere and theatrical release in US were canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and that was how it happened to be released by Netflix instead a few days ago. Yes, you might say that there are indeed many better things to watch on Netflix and other streaming services, but I will not deny that I had a fair share of chuckles during my viewing, and now I have some expectation on whatever Nanjiani and Rae will show us next in the future.


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Bori (2018) ☆☆☆(3/4): She wants to be deaf…


South Korean independent film “Bori” is a sensitive and intimate coming-of-age tale about one girl who wants to be deaf just like her dear family. This surely sounds weird to many of you at first, but the movie gradually lets us understand and emphasize with her as slowly rolling from one engaging moment to another, and we come to observe her little drama during one summer with more care and attention.

During its first half, the movie establishes a little happy world surrounding its young heroine. Because she is the only one capable of hearing in her family, Bo-ri (Kim Ah-song) has often functioned as a translator between her parents and the outside world, and she has also been someone to lean on for her younger brother Jeong-woo (Lee Rin-ha). When Jeong-woo suddenly wants to eat some cheap Chinese dishes at one point, his parents do not object at all, and Bo-ri is certainly ready to order them on the phone.

Whenever she goes to a local elementary school in the morning, Bo-ri drops by a small religious place and then prays for something, and we soon come to learn of her little private wish when her best friend Eun-jeong (Hwang Yoo-rim) asks about that later. As a child of deaf adults (CODA), Bo-ri has felt a growing gap between her and her family especially since she began to attend her elementary school, so she has wished to be deaf just like her family for more connection between her and her family.

This wish of hers becomes more desperate especially after one frightening incident during a local summer festival. Although she is supposed to be the one who looks after her parents and younger brother as enjoying the festival along with them, Bo-ri inadvertently gets herself separated from her family, and that surely throws her into panic and dread, though she eventually reunites with her family at a local police station.


And then there comes a rather silly idea. On a TV program Bo-ri happens to watch along with her family during one evening, an old female diver says that she has lost most of her hearing due as frequently diving into water, and, to our little amusement, Bo-ri subsequently tries to become deaf via putting her head into water for a few minutes. After this amusing attempt turns out to be not so successful, she decides to do something a little more drastic, and that naturally leads to an ‘accident’ which surely scares her family a lot.

Anyway, Bo-ri is taken to a local hospital shortly after this incident, and that is when she seizes an opportunity without any hesitation. When she wakes up and then gets examined by a doctor, she pretends that she has lost her hearing completely, and her parents are understandably upset about their dear daughter’s sudden loss of hearing.

As her family becomes more accustomed to her newly acquired disability during next several days, Bo-ri is pleased because she feels like getting closer to her family. She and her family interact with each other more than before, and there is a little touching moment when her father tells her about how he met his wife and then fell in love with her right from the beginning.

In the meantime, Bo-ri finds herself in a tricky circumstance as continuing her innocent masquerade. While often facing unpleasant moments of bias and prejudice from others around her, she comes to wonder whether it is really worthwhile to pretend to be deaf for the rest of her life, and then she becomes more conflicted when her parents shows willingness to pay a lot for a certain special surgery for her and her younger brother.

bori02As its heroine’s inner conflict grows along the story, some dramatic tension is naturally accumulated on the screen, but the movie steadily maintains its gentle tone on the whole, and director/writer Kim Jinyu, whose screenplay is based a lot on his childhood experiences with his deaf family, continues to dole out small but sincere moments to be appreciated while also showing considerable thoughtfulness for his audiences. Like Oscar-nominated German film “Beyond Silence” (1996), the movie has the subtitle for deaf audiences, and this significant gesture of inclusion is quite considerate to say the least.

Kim also draws the good natural acting from the main cast members of the film. As the center of the movie, young performer Kim Ah-song gives a likable lead performance which ably anchors the whole movie, and she is also supported well by the other main cast members. While Kwak Jin-seok and Heo Ji-na are effective as Bo-ri’s loving parents, Lee Rin-ha is delightful as Bo-ri’s plucky younger brother, and Hwang Yoo-rim is also fine in her small but substantial supporting role.

Overall, “Bori”, which is incidentally Kim’s first feature film, is another notable South Korean independent movie of this year after “Lucky Chan-sil” (2019), and it is a shame that the movie happens to be released in local theaters during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea. In my inconsequential opinion, it is too good to be released and then forgotten quickly, so I recommend you to check it out someday.


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Sea Fever (2019) ☆☆☆(3/4): Quarantined in the middle of the ocean


I must say that it was a rather odd experience for me to watch “Sea Fever”, which happened to be released in South Korean theaters a few days ago. The movie, which was initially scheduled to be released in theaters this April after shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in last year but instead released on video on demand (VOD) in US and UK due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is about a small group of characters getting quarantined because of a mysterious infectious disease. That aspect surely felt relevant to me as I watched it along with a few audiences at a local multiplex theater, which still does not feel that safe to us just like many other public spots due to the remaining possibility of another wave of COVID-19 infection around us here in South Korea.

At the beginning, we meet Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), an Irish graduate student who has studied marine faunal behavioral patterns. Being unsocial and introverted, she prefers to concentrate on her study alone, but her adviser professor adamantly demands that she should spend some days on a small fishing trawler which will soon leave for another fishing voyage, and she cannot say no because, like any other graduate students, she does not dare to ignore her adviser professor’s demand.

Of course, things do not look that good right from when Siobhán is about to board on the trawler. Gerard (Dougray Scott), the official skipper of the trawler, and his wife Freya (Connie Nielsen), who is the de facto leader in the trawler, do not have much problem with her. However, the other shipmates are not particularly pleased mainly because of Siobhán’s red hair, which, as some of you already know, is believed to bring a bad luck among seafarers.


After the trawler leaves its port and then goes to the ocean, we get another sign of bad luck. When Gerard and Freya are notified by the Coast Guard that there is an exclusion zone to avoid near their original route, Freya has no problem with following the instruction from the Coast Guard, but Gerard deliberately has the trawler sail into that exclusion zone in question, and, of course, that decision eventually leads to a sudden strange incident. Something big hits the trawler shortly after it enters that exclusion zone, and it soon turns out that, this is not much of a spoiler at all, there is a huge mysterious creature right under the trawler.

Although the creature is subsequently gone and then everything looks fine on the trawler, one of the shipmates suddenly gets very ill. As already announced to us via one scene involved with a trawler which seems to be abandoned on the surface, that leads to a gruesome moment of shock and awe for everyone on the trawler, and it becomes quite clear to them that they are facing a highly dangerous disease with no cure at all.

While certainly anxious and frightened just like others on the trawler, Siobhán observes the circumstance from a cool scientific perspective, and she gradually comes to take control of the situation. After learning more of how contagious the disease really is and how catastrophic it will be once it gets spread into the human world, she tries to find any possible way to decontaminate the trawler, and she also insists that she and others on the trawler should be quarantined for 36 hours at least.

Of course, her sensible position naturally clashes with others on the trawler, who understandably want to return to the port as soon possible. As another shipmate gets sicker hour by hour, everyone on the trawler becomes more nervous and desperate than before, and many of them become quite angry when Siobhán comes to make a certain decisive action for not having the disease spread into the human world at any chance.


Steadily increasing the level of dread and suspense on the screen, the movie immerses us more into the tense and claustrophobic mood surrounding its characters, and director/writer Neasa Hardiman gives us a number of good moments including the scene where Siobhán and other shipmates get examined for any sign of infection one by one. While Hermione Corfield ably holds the center as required, the other cast members in the film including Connie Nielsen and Dougray Scott are also effective on the whole, and they bring some personality to their basically functional roles.

Unfortunately, Hardiman’s screenplay stumbles a bit during the last act which feels a bit too hurried in my humble opinion, but the movie keeps engaging us thanks to her competent direction, and I particularly appreciate how the creature in the film is presented. Made from a rather modest amount of production budget, the movie understandably does not show the creature a lot, but the creature is depicted with awe and mystery at least, and it simply comes to us as an entity following its nature instead of looking merely menacing or malicious.

As a SF horror film, “Sea Fever” will not surprise you much especially you have seen “Alien” (1979) and “The Thing” (1982), but it did its job as well as intended, and it may remind you more of the importance of quarantine. Yes, things have been hard and difficult these days, but, as the heroine of the movie emphasizes, public safety comes first above all else in case of pandemic, and you may be relieved to see that your current risk is smaller than the one shown in the film.


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Becoming (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): Her journey continues


Netflix documentary film “Becoming”, which was released in last week, made me miss a lot when the American society and government looked relatively more normal, decent, and sensible. When Barack and Michelle Obama entered the White House in early 2009, I and many others hoped that there would be more changes in the country, but, despite some notable progresses and achievements during the next 8 years, there came Donald J. Trump, and, as all of you know, it did not take much time for this orange-face prick and his deplorable cronies to drive the American society and its people down to their latest low point.

This has been a pretty depressing sight to say the least, but there are also many good people keeping trying to fight for the better future nonetheless, and Michelle Obama is certainly one of such people. As shown from the documentary, she was already ready to spread messages of hope and solidarity around the country right from the day when she and her husband left the White House, and the documentary gives us a glimpse into her continuing journey while occasionally looking back on her incredible life.

Closely following her book tour in 2019, the documentary shows Obama being quite comfortable with her current status. As she frankly admits at one point, she feels less pressured than before because she is less scrutinized by the media and public before, and we see how effortlessly she holds everyone’s attention while simply being herself during those promotion events for her book. When she meets a bunch of various people as signing the copies of her book, they all are excited to meet and talk a bit with her, and she looks genuinely interested in what they want to say to her.

We also see Obama often having meetings with many different young people, who are all willing to listen to her advice and encouragement while having each own life story to tell. When she meets a group of students from a Native American preservation area, they mostly talk about their increasing concerns over the blatant racism of the ongoing Trump era, and she respond to them with care and empathy.


These and other moments during Obama’s book tour are frequently intercut with her reminiscence on her own life. She was born to a middle-class African American family residing in the Southern region of Chicago, and she was fortunate to have good parents who always tried their best for providing a nice environment for her and her siblings including her older brother Craig. She was a model student during her high school years, but then she faced bias and prejudice as preparing for higher education, and that made her more determined to advance and succeed than before.

After eventually graduating from Princeton University and the Harvard Law School, Obama began to work in a law firm in Chicago, but then there came an unexpected change via a certain young, ambitious African American dude who happened to be under her supervision in 1989. At first, they were just an intern and his mentor, but they quickly got closer to each other, and they eventually married several days later.

As subsequently becoming the mother of two girls, Obama decided to put aside her career ambition a bit for raising her daughters and supporting her husband’s growing political career, but then things became quite more challenging than she ever imagined thanks to her husband’s swift political ascension during the 2000s. Just like her husband, she drew lots of attention when the 2008 US Presidential Election began, and she talks to us about how much she felt pressured as tactfully presenting herself in front of the American people.

Everything looked bright and hopeful as she entered the White House along with her husband, but then they saw more of the dark sides of the American society fueled by racism and tribalism. Sure, there were good moments including the day when same-sex marriage became legally recognized and protected in US, but there were also bad moments such as when they had to deal with the latest unjust death of African American citizen.


Above all, they were slapped really hard by Trump’s unbelievable victory in the 2016 US Presidential election. While she surely does not like Trump and his supporters at all, Obama simply chooses not to talk much about them, and she instead emphasizes on how much she was disappointed to see many young American people not motivated enough to stop Trump during that traumatic political moment for her and her family and many other people in US.

Nonetheless, Obama keeps going as she always has, and it is surely nice to see her exuding hope and optimism in front of thousands of audiences. Yes, things seem to be falling apart with more despair and hopelessness these days, but her passionate words in the documentary remind me that we should keep trying hard even though we may be doomed in the end.

Although I must point out that “Becoming” is more or less than a supplement to Obama’s book, the documentary is still engaging thanks to Obama’s radiant presence, and director Nadia Hallgren did a fairly competent job on the whole. I wish it were more focused and insightful, but it succeeded as much as intended in my inconsequential opinion, and I will not deny that I felt a little better for a while after watching it.


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The Half of It (2020) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4): A refreshing coming-of-age drama by Alice Wu


To be frank with you, I did not expect much when I watched the trailer of Netflix film “The Half of It”, which received the Founders Award at the Tribeca Film Festival before released on Netflix in last week. While its story premise is pretty familiar as clearly influenced by Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac”, the movie not only sidesteps its genre conventions but also feels quite refreshing in terms of story and characters, and the overall result is another recent notable breakthrough in the presentation of Asian characters in American films after “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018).

The story is mainly told through the viewpoint of Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), a Chinese American high schooler who has lived in a small remote rural town named Squahamish. As being the only Asian kid in the town, Ellie has been a lonely outsider in her school, but this shy but intelligent and independent girl does not mind that at all, and we see how she takes care of many daily matters for herself instead of his father, who is the station master of the train station of the town but has been quite inert and depressed since he lost his dear wife several years ago.

For earning some extra money, Ellie has often done homeworks for many other kids in her school, and then there comes an unusual request from Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer), a school jock who is a member of their high school football team. He has had a crush on a popular girl named Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), and he has yearned to get her affection even though she is officially in a relationship with some other school jock. While Ellie is not so eager to do that because she finds herself attracted to Aster after their accident encounter at the school, she eventually agrees to help Paul mainly because she needs the money for paying the electricity bill right now, and she soon works upon love letters to be sent to Aster as coaching Paul a bit on how to talk with Aster during their date.


One of the main surprises in the movie is that Aster turns out to be more sophisticated and sensitive than expected. Through her sincere replies to the letters written by Ellie, she reveals some hidden sides she has never shown to her peers as well as her current boyfriend. She really wants to make a meaningful human connection with Paul, so Ellie has to make Paul go through more preparations. In addition to having him reading several good books including the ones written by a certain famous Nobel Prize winner, she also teaches him on how to talk well in front of Aster, and we accordingly get a humorous scene where she trains him as playing ping-pong with him.

While helping Paul more and more, Ellie naturally becomes conflicted as feeling more attracted to Aster than before, but she also comes to care a lot about Paul, who is certainly not that smart but sincerely appreciates what Ellie has done for him. At one point, he defends her when she happens to be insulted by some rude kids as usual, and he also saves her from a very humiliating situation caused by a mean prank during her music performance in front of the student body.

Now you may have a pretty good idea about where the story and characters are heading, but the screenplay by director/co-producer/writer Alice Wu, who has been mainly known for her debut feature film “Saving Face” (2005), keeps surprising us while leisurely handling its story and characters with care and attention. As its three main characters try to deal with their respective matters of heart, the movie often catches us off guard with unexpected moments of tenderness and poignancy, and I especially like one certain scene where Ellie happens to spend some private time with Aster, who, though she still has no idea on what is going on among her, Ellie, and Paul, is willing to get closer to Ellie for getting to know Paul more.


The story eventually arrives at a narrative point where its three main characters have to make each own choice (Is this a spoiler?), but the movie thankfully does not push them into cheap resolution while reminding us of how much they have been changed in the end – and how much they may go further after that. The movie also pays some attention to Ellie’s father, and there is an expected but undeniably touching moment later in the story when he convinces his daughter to do what is really the best for her life and herself.

The three main performers of the movie are engaging and convincing in their respective characters’ narrative arches. Constantly appealing with her natural charm which makes us instantly root for her character, Leah Lewis deftly conveys her character’s complex thoughts and feelings to us, and she is complemented well by Daniel Diemer and Alexxis Lemire, both of whom did a solid job of bringing considerable personality and humanity to their seemingly simple characters. While Collin Chou provides some gravitas as Ellie’s melancholic father, Becky Ann Baker has a little acerbic fun as a jaded but caring teacher who has recognized Ellie’s bright potentials, and she certainly made me quite amused via her excellent comic timing around the finale.

On the whole, “The Half of It” is a lovely coming-of-age drama to be appreciated, and its numerous good moments have grown on me since I watched it yesterday. It is a shame that Wu was not that active for more than 10 years after “Saving Face”, but she demonstrates here that she is still a talented filmmaker, and I really hope “The Half of It” will lead to more stories to be presented by her.


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The Willoughbys (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): Funny, Colorful, and a bit naughty


Animation feature film “The Willoughbys”, which was released on Netflix a few weeks ago, is funny and colorful as cheerfully going all the way with its exaggerated animation style and naughty sense of humor. While you may wince a bit during some of those dark and nasty moments in the film, you will be also delighted by numerous spirited moments to be savored, and you will surely come to root for its young main characters, who happen to go through a series of unfortunate moments as reaching for what they need most.

The young main characters of the films are the four children of Walter and Helga Willoughby (voiced by Martin Short and Jane Krakowski, respectively). As a husband and a wife, Walter and Helga have been inseparable to each other while deeply and adamantly in love with each other, but they have been pretty crummy parents to their children, and their sheer negligence often nearly approaches to abuse and mistreatment. They are annoyed and enraged whenever their children dare to distract them from their romantic time, and their eldest son Tim (voiced by Will Forte) is usually the one to be blamed and then kicked down into the coal bin for that.

Anyway, things are not always bad for Tim and his three siblings. While having been stuck in the upper part of their old-fashioned house located right in the middle of a big modern city, each of them has grown up fairly well despite their harsh parents, and we see how each of them usually spends time in their private place which is filled with books and many other stuffs. While Tim is obsessed with becoming as great as his many glorious ancestors someday, his younger sister Jane (voiced by Alessia Cara) yearns for adventures out there as frequently singing alone, and their little twin brothers, both of whom are voiced by Seán Cullen, are precocious kids with considerable engineering skill and knowledge.


And then, as their pet cat who functions as the narrator of the film has already announced to us, there comes an unexpected change to them during one dark and stormy night. Thanks to that happening, Tim and his three siblings subsequently find themselves outside their house, and that eventually leads to their first encounter with a big candy factory outside the city, which belongs to a dude who looks as ridiculous as Willy Wonka.

After their first adventure outside their house, Tim and Jane come to feel the need to be emancipated from their parents more than ever, and they soon come upon a clever idea for getting rid of their parents and then becoming orphans in the need of good parents. They concoct a tour plan consisting of very dangerous places around the world, and their parents, who are not so bright in contrast to their children, are easily manipulated to accept this outrageous tour plan because, well, they want to be away from their children as much as possible.

Before leaving the house, Helga and Walter hire a nanny at a fairly cheap price, so Tim and his siblings do not expect much from the beginning, but, what do you know, their nanny, voiced by Maya Rudolph, turns out to be a lot more amiable and caring than they expected. As coming to learn more about how Tim and his siblings have been neglected and ignored, the nanny comes to pay more attention and affection to them, and she also helps them befriending that candy factory owner, who turns out to be less hostile than he seemed at first.

Of course, the situation becomes problematic as Tim and his siblings belatedly come to realize the serious consequence of their innocent plan. While they may lose their house forever because of their parents’ reckless and thoughtless decision, there are also a bunch of menacing social service workers, who are quite ready to take them away because, well, they are officially orphans now.


Briskly bouncing from one narrative spot to another, the screenplay by director Kris Pearn and his co-writer Mark Stanleigh, which is based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry, steadily provides uproarious moments for good laughs, and Pearn and his technical crew members did a good job of imbuing the film with distinctive mood and style. While this is a digital animation film, the texture of its characters and backgrounds often evokes that of stop-motion animation film, and that is particularly exemplified well by the woolly impression of the hairs of the Willoughby family members (It is no wonder that Helga makes her husband’s facial hairs into threads to be knitted by her).

The main cast members of the film are all effective in their respective voice performances. While Will Forte, Alessia Cara, and Seán Cullen put lots of personality and spirit into their respective parts, Maya Rudolph is warm and sincere as required, and Terry Crews is constantly brimming with joviality in his eccentric role. In case of Martin Short and Jane Krakowski, they certainly have a ball with their amusingly obnoxious characters, and Ricky Gervais is sardonic as usual as the narrator of the film.

Overall, “The Willoughbys” is another distinctive animation film from Netflix after its two recent Oscar-nominated animation films “Klaus” (2019) and “I Lost My Body” (2019), and you will appreciate it especially if you enjoyed reading those naughty works of Roald Dahl such as “James and the Giant Peach”, which is incidentally mentioned in the film. It may look modest, but it distinguishes itself well on the whole, so I gladly recommend it to you.


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A Secret Love (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): A longtime couple who finally comes out


Netflix documentary film “A Secret Love”, which was released in last Wednesday, is an intimate portrayal of a longtime couple who endured and prevailed together for many years as deeply loving each other in secret. While their long story of love is certainly touching to say the least, it is also poignant to observe how they try to move onto what will be the last chapter of their life, and I must say that I was moved particularly by what is shown around the end of the documentary.

In the beginning, we are introduced to Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, two old ladies who have lived with each other for more than 60 years. Although Terry and Pat prefer to continue to live in a house where they have resided together for more than 20 years, Terry’s physical condition has unfortunately been worsening due to Parkinson’s disease, and it is clear that Pat may not be able to take care of her lifelong partner someday. They actually consider moving back to Terry’s hometown in Canada, and that looks like a good choice considering that they will be near where Terry’s family members live, but Pat is not so eager about that mainly because of its cold weather.

In contrast, Terry and Pat do not hesitate after deciding that they should tell Terry’s family members about what they have not revealed for many years. To many of Terry’s family members including Terry’s favourite niece Diana, Pat has simply been a very close friend of hers who just happens to live with her for convenience and companionship, and Terry even denied her romantic relationship with Terry when Diana asked her about that a long time ago, but, as seeing how things have changed during last six decades, she and Pat finally choose to come out of their closet.

A Secret Love

Not so surprisingly, not only Diana but also Terry’s other family members do not have much trouble with accepting what they never knew about Terry and Pat, and then we hear about how things were quite hard and difficult for them and many other homosexual folks in the past. Around the time when Terry and Pat came across each other for the first time and then instantly fell in love with each other, homosexuality was widely regarded as sin or crime, and Terry and Pat had to be very careful about their relationship during that time. When Terry introduced Pat to her parents, they certainly did not say anything about their relationship, but Terry later tells us that her father, who was quite warm and generous to Pat as if she had been another daughter of his, probably knew what was going on between his daughter and Pat.

Both Terry and Pat were eager to escape their rural hometowns in Canada as entering adolescence, and we hear a bit about how they came to have a chance for that. Not long after the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was established in US in the middle of the World War II, Terry, who was a very good softball player, came to join one of the female professional baseball teams, and she was in fact one of those distinguished female baseball players who became the source of inspiration for, yes, “A League of Their Own” (1992). She also later tried ice hockey, and that was how she met Pat, who was also an athlete with considerable skill and potential at that time.

Although they were initially not so sure about what they felt between themselves, Terry and Pat eventually got far closer to each other, and they subsequently moved together to Chicago, where they could have more freedom despite still being as discreet as before. On the surface, they were merely two co-workers who also happened to be roommates, and they reminisce about how they had to look normal as much as possible for hiding their relationship behind their backs in front of others around them.


While skillfully presenting Terry and Pat’s long history via the mix of archival photographs and grainy home video clips, director Chris Bolan, who is one of Terry’s great nephews, also focuses on how Terry and Pat cope with the inevitable change in their remaining years. As Terry’s physical condition becomes more deteriorated day by day, Diana naturally becomes quite concerned about Terry and Pat, so she tries to help them find a suitable nursing home, but then she finds herself conflicting a lot with Pat, who still does not want to go to a nursing home even though she also gets older and more fragile just like Terry. At one point, she and Diana happen to clash with each other in front of the camera, and both of them certainly look hurt while Terry is helplessly stuck between them.

In the end, Pat and Terry come to move to a nearby nursing home, where they incidentally happen to be the first lesbian residents. As they subsequently adjust themselves to their changed status, they become more comfortable about their relationship in front of others, and we accordingly get a sweet and sincere moment as they finally become a legitimate couple while congratulated by their family members and friends.

On the whole, “A Secret Love” is a moving documentary which presents its two main human subjects and their loving relationship with lots of respect and affection, and it is one of more engaging documentaries presented by Netflix. To be frank with you, I always appreciate good documentaries about good people, and this is surely a prime example I am willing to present to you.


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