All Over Me (1997) is a brilliant little film from sisters Alex Sichel directing & Sylvia Sichel for script. Deplorably, this is their only film.
It's likely not as widely enjoyed as crapulistic lightweight lesbian romances such as Better than Chocolate because it has so much in it that is harsh & real, though it does also convey light at the end of the tunnel. The film looks seriously & realistically at adolescent sexuality in the big city (New York). And in Hell's Kitchen, kids grow up awfully fast.
Claude (short for Claudia, perfectly played by Alison Folland) is fifteen & pretty obviously in love with her barbi-on-drugs best friend Ellen (Tara Subkoff). Whether Ellen is so aggressively heterosexual to cover up her true feelings we never clearly see resolved, but she does want Claude to keep loving her even as she carouses with violent controlling Mark (Cole Hauser) & descends into addiction. Personally I thought she really was totally straight despite encouraging Claude, for Ellen had learned to use sex whether with one girl or lots of guys in her maladjusted quest for love & happiness.
As Ellen spirals downward, Claude relies increasingly on her friendship with Luke (Pat Briggs), her gay neighbor. Ellen's new boyfriend is a gay-basher who ends up killing Luke. Ellen was either too stoned or wants to pretend she was too stoned to admit even to herself that she was a witness to the crime. This element of the story is damned heavy, but the story continues to focus mainly on Claude's painful crush on & friendship with Ellen, & with Ellen's self-destructive path. Guilt, love, & neediness all blending in a big soup of misery.
Claude meets another young woman, Lucy (gorgeous Leisha Hailey), who is out of the closet & very thrilling & creative & sexy. We know right away that Lucy is a much wiser person to be in love with, whether it lasts days, months, or years, for it needn't be injurious & would surely be rewarding. But people can't always choose who they love, & Claude's feelings for straight-&-damaged Ellen makes it tough for Claude to develop a healthier relationship with anyone.
The teen angst, the exploratory sex, the parties & drugs, the exciting but potentially dangerous urban decadence of Hell's Kitchen in the 1990s, are all completely convincing. All Over Me is a beautifully written, well-acted, honest indy film, artful but never afflicted with excesses of artiness.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl