Film Review: Becks

This portrait of the artist as a young lesbian, despite its thinness, has much to recommend it: some catchy music, believable passion and a highly likeable performance by Lena Hall in a rather prickly role.
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If nothing else, Becks features the longest kiss this viewer has ever witnessed onscreen. Forget the infamous oscillatory session between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious or even the slo-mo buss in Carefree, which marked the first time Fred Astaire really gave Ginger Rogers a good smackeroo. When Becks (Lena Hall), a would-be folk-rock artist adrift once more in her hometown, leans into the neglected wife (Mena Suvari) of the guy who tortured her for being lesbian in high school—sweet revenge!—it’s a passionate gesture long aborning and the two make the most of it, to an absolutely swoony finish.

It’s special, sensitively observed moments like that which set Daniel Powell and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh‘s indie apart from the DVD shelf-load of titles that have also tackled two girls falling in love in a small town that basically just does not understand. The plot is Simple Simon and thin as a twig: When Becks, short for Mary Rebecca (Mom was a former nun), discovers her ultra-hot girlfriend Lucy (the sumptuous Hayley Kiyoko) entwined with another, equally nubile blonde, she hightails it home to St. Louis to lick her wounds at the home of her mother Ann (Christine Lahti), who, although a devout Roman Catholic, has come to somewhat uneasy terms with her daughter’s sexuality.

Becks, however, ever the rebel, cannot help pushing things to the breaking point with that illicit affair or running out of a depressingly heterosexual barbecue with the only other lesbian there to a gay bar. Otherwise, Becks basically just lies around the house, munching cereal and watching trash TV. It’s inevitable that things will erupt, and when they do, it happens with a blunt shock to the systems of both lovers and Mom.

The film—which benefits from its alluringly sunny cinematography by Kat Westergaard—is laced with liberal doses of winsomely catchy songs, which the super-ingratiating Hall, who won the Tony Award for her wry portrayal of a male roadie in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, blesses with her plangent voice that possesses truly jaw-dropping range. She is that rare singer who can also be called a true musician and this deeply enriches Becks in a special way. Suvari has been a fantasy lust object since American Beauty and, unbelievably, barely seems to have aged a day since, bringing an angelic sweetness and believable innocence to her role of a decidedly unhappy housewife. It’s good to have Lahti, always a wonderfully strong performer, back on the big screen, and she makes the most of the little she has been given to do. The film could have used more of her backstory, as well as Becks’ with Lucy. Another Tony winner, Dan Fogler, makes a welcome if minor appearance as Becks’ affable local BFF, a bartender with whom she used to fool around in her more “questioning days.”

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