A small town baby-dyke of the diesel persuasion, name of Shy (Silas Howard), sets out on the road of crime & adventure, arriving in the big city, San Francisco, in the off-kilter romantic comedy By Hook or By Crook (2002).
Crossdressing in suit & tie, Shy wonders, "Am I a loser or just totally lost?" Mostly she has a high opinion of her magical self.
In the city she strikes up an unexpected friendship with a seemingly brain-damaged & certainly nutty but oh-so-appealing bearded lady, Valentine (Harry Dodge), & for Shy thereafter, life has changed.
In the real world there are so many swaggering girls & their presence in cinema is far too rare, rarer still as the chief protagonist/hero. The archetype should be standard for roguish swashbucklers, rather than as psychopaths.
For that reason as well as several others Hook deserves praise right out of the gate, understanding as it does that tough girls are cool & sexy, even if a lot of ignorant world finds them scary or disgusting.
This film takes for granted that eccentric bulldaggers are at the very least extremely interesting & possibly damned sexy.
Valentine is looking for her birth mother, bumming around like the little drag king she is. She's a bit like Ratso Rizzo; Shy's the midnight cowboy, except a little smarter.
The tale possesses real street poetry & the performances teeter from theatrical to cinema verite, always beauteous.
To me this is what lesbian cinema should be, rough, authentic, satiric, eccentric, meaningful, sensual, sad, joyful, & amazing. Those sappy-ass girly-girl harlequin romance films slathered with feminist politics just don't have the charisma.
I was laughing out loud at so many scenes from By Hook or By Crook, yet it's no joky film. This is serious perfection, as well as a primo example of guerilla filmmaking. Such films as most deserve to be made are frequently the most impossible to get made. The women who star & directed pulled off a Cassavettes both in poverty-independence & artistic accomplishment.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl