“If you deny yourself something long enough … you’re going to voluntarily want to do the thing that you were trying so hard not to do.”
Child star, Jacqueline Kirk (Sarah Stouffer), wants to do something of substance, something that matters, something that differentiates her from a childhood spent in front of the camera. She enrolls in college. She meets a teacher, Katherine Stark (Allison McAtee), with whom she shares an immediate attraction. The two embark on a torrid and indiscreet relationship. All is sexy and all is well. Only, all is not well. Something’s amiss, and the moment she’s offered the opportunity to begin acting again, she jumps at it – of course, at the expense of her fledgling relationship.
Bloomington is the 2010 film written and directed by Fernanda Cardoso.
Does this plot line seem somehow, I don’t know … comfortable? Familiar? If it does, then you’re probably hearkening back to any number of films, including Katherine Brooks’ homage to student/teacher entanglements the 2006 film Loving Annabelle. What worked in Brooks’ Annabelle, of course, is out of the question here and for that, I’m thankful.
Writer/director Fernanda Cardoso wants to give us a more even-keeled, more respectable version of the older/younger, teacher/student dynamic, which I respect. That Jacks isn’t a minor is helpful, in the extreme, especially given the amount of love scenes between the two characters. It doesn’t, however, mean that the relationship between the two women is any more or less comfortable to watch.
Bloomington is worth a mention because it stands with but a handful of films that show the entire life of a lesbian relationship.
That Bloomington ends with the women parting ways instead of powering through the obstacles that now stand between them, is weak and contrived. It’s always easier as a writer to let your characters give up, but this, to an audience, feels like a cheat. Even though the women part on amicable terms in a cloud of lust, you walk away from Bloomington feeling as though you’ve been somehow robbed. That’s not a good feeling for anyone, but especially so for an LGBT audience who could use a few more rainbows and a lot less of the storm clouds.
It’s almost as if Cardoso wasn’t quite sure how to end the story between Jacks and Katherine. In a perfect world, Bloomington would have ended without the cloud of controversy, but I suppose someone had to pay for all the fun the characters had.
Bloomington is a solid date movie. It’s a sweet little piece of fluff that works thanks to the onscreen chemistry of Stouffer and McAtee.
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