Jackie, a former child star who romped about the universe in the television show Neptune, has moved from Hollywood to Bloomington, Indiana, to leave her life in and with the stars behind. She brings with her a troubled relationship with her Mom, an ambiguous future, and a liminal self. Enter Catherine, a college professor sprung from fantasy — tailored suits, pinned-up hair, intellect, a Porsche, and an adorable dog.
Suffice it to say, Bloomington does not tread new ground. We’ve been here before — Desert Hearts, Liana, and, of course, Mädchen in Uniform and Loving Annabelle. Despite that, the filmmaker spells out for us that Jackie is of age – the actress looks much younger than the 20-plus years she is supposed to be. These efforts do nothing to make this relationship between a student and professor feel less uncomfortable. This includes a scene of Catherine bathing Jackie that feels more motherly than provocative.
The movie’s uneven pacing begins with an unbelievable seduction scene at a department mixer where Catherine, without finesse but with success, seduces the young Jackie in a matter of moments. As one might guess, this love affair does not last. The director’s flat handling of the end betrays her past experience editing television reality shows such as The Real L Word and America’s Next Top Model.
There are moments of true charm and amusement in the Bloomington. That being said, more often than not the scenes of the actresses alone are more emotionally authentic than the scenes they share. In particular, Allison McAtee (Catherine) communicates more emotional depth than one might expect with such a wanting script. It should be mentioned that other viewers of this film have taken issue with both lead characters sleeping with men at the demise of their relationship.
Any library with a healthy budget devoted to purchasing films and a mission to provide equal access to LGBT materials should consider purchasing this film. Although it is not a great movie (it cannot be compared to the artfulness of Mädchen in Uniform), it is no worse than The Switch, another 2010 release that has doubtless been added to library collections in multiple copies.
Reviewed by Analisa Ornelas
Training and Documentation Coordinator
Innovative Interfaces, Inc.