To be or not to be
Independent films are often challenged to achieve remarkable feats with a limited budget and limited time. This film proves that it is possible.
The 80s stench and colour are embedded in the film Blue Jean, not Jeans.
Jean is a PE teacher at a secondary modern school in Newcastle. Their accent is one of the softest and most melodic in the UK.
This Georgie accent happens to be difficult for many English-speaking people to understand, and in some ways it is similar to Scottish. I love accents from different parts of the country they enrich our culture and they are charged with history. Let's get on with the film...
This complex drama is set-in the year 1988, just when the recently enacted section 28 law of the Thatcher regime came into force. The law that forbid the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities. Many will remember this, and as I always say, many would also try to forget.
This drama is centered around this repulsive and hated law, Section 28, which was wiped from the statute books only in 2003. Schools and the national curriculum were censored because of this legislation. Teachers were not allowed to teach about same-sex relationships, and they were kicked out if they did.
The impact all of this had on the gay community, and in fact any part of the LGBTQ+ community was devastating and punishing.
The Equality Act, was passed years later on the first of October 2010, and is supposed to protect against discrimination in the UK. It is still an unacceptable issue in far too many countries around the world.
In 2023, we still don't respect others, and I think we have a lot to learn. The pendulum has swung too far the other way, resulting in more disorientation and confusion for the younger ones to take in, let alone understand. There must be a happy medium somewhere...
Jean, the protagonist of this drama, has lived in her own world and kept quiet among her colleagues regarding her private life. In other words, she leads a double life and guards it fiercely, knowing that is how it has to be if she wants to keep her job. Then that moment that always arises in due time, puts her to the test. Lois, a pupil in her netball team, is bullied for being a lesbian. These lovely schoolgirls set her up, and she falls wham into the trap! Lois is expelled for making sexual advances towards her classmate. In-fact, she was the victim and got the blame! Jean saw what happened and did not defend her, knowing-fully that she was picked-on.
Jean has to deal with the consequences and internal conflicts of her own conscience. She realises that she has failed her pupil Lois, and herself. Jean's partner, Viv, can't understand her hypocrisy and flares up at her, confronting her about hiding or being embarrassed about being a lesbian as if it were something bad. She makes a point that it's their duty to be brave for the younger generations, so they can be proud, and above all, be honest with themselves, family, friends, and colleagues.
They come from two different worlds that clash, so it's hard for them to continue their relationship because Jean won't fully accept her sexual identity. This will lead to their separation. Jean is faced with the prospect of revealing her sexual orientation to her brother-in-law and his stuffy friend at her sister's fancy dress party after consuming a potent beverage in an attempt to instil Dutch courage. This was a pivotal moment in the film.
Cast & Crew
Director/Writer Georgia Oakley has made a remarkable debut with this brilliant, and I repeat brilliant, independent film. What a splash she has made, an uncanny accuracy that is certainly one of the best films I have seen in a while. She is well-known for her fondness of convention defying female led narratives. The grainy photography and emblematic soundtrack electro-pop transported me immediately to a very true moment in recent history that l have lived.
Rosey McEwan, a fantastic actress who plays Jean with all the trimmings... She was superb! She is nominated for a BAFTA... And I hope she gets it.
Kerrie Hayes plays Viv, she is astonishingly believable! Nominated for a BAFTA for supporting actress, and again, I really do hope she gets it!
Lucy Halliday brings to life the awkward adolescent Lois. If we go back to our youth we can probably remember somebody like her/him, or we could have even been ourselves which sends chills down my spine! What an exceptional and talented actress Lucy is!
Lydia Page plays mean Soitham, and she is a little cow from the very beginning. Certainly, there are a few similar individuals scattered around most schools exactly like her. However, she was as perversely twisted as it could possibly get. She was amazing.
The entire cast portrayed a very realistic and truthful moment, and not such a long time ago! History provides a reminder of the pitfalls inherent in our errors. Food for thought...