Friday, August 29, 2014

Féminin/Féminin - A hidden treasure

Robichaud directing Léa and Émilie.

Chloé Robichaud. This is how I need to start talking about this show. I cannot emphasize her name enough, Chloé Robichaud, because she will be so successful, with a truly promising career ahead. She’s that talented. 
She’s my favorite young talent, along with Xavier Dolan. But I would draw a line not necessarily with him but rather with another Francophone, Céline Sciamma. I had already mentioned how Robichaud’s debut film reminds me a little bit of Water Lilies. I think the main point here is how the two are successful at telling their story. I think it’s the clearest aspect. Both debut films tell us a unique story that feels personal and they tell it quite successfully, despite the dimensions. 

Féminin/Féminin consists of eight episodes and it is a perfect little show with great potential to keep growing. There are a bunch of good things to point out. It’s really really good. Maybe because the idea came and it is being supported by LezSpreadTheWord, a LGBT Canadian web platform that emphasizes on all things Lesbian, that Robichaud is a part of, the show is part mockumentary, part fictional, and they’re only ten minutes long. Therefore the idea that it is really really precious!
I’m in love with this series.

A group of girls chat at a Café, they seem pretty close. They are also pretty They’re gay. At least most of them. But we’re already over it.
These are some of the characters we’ll be seeing throughout the episodes. A Robichaud shows up and they ask her about these two Canadian actresses, Suzanne Clément and Hélène Florent. Then two boys pass by, they play around guessing who the lesbians in the group are (stereotypes issues – check) and then they ask them for a make out session. The girls sigh, they flip the fingers. We laugh. And this is Féminin/Féminin. Right here. 

Léa is the character we follow closely in the Pilot. She’s newly single and she’s casually dating around, playing the role of not wanting anything serious. As she says, “So, I eat, I live alone, I watch Grey’s Anatomy, I cry a little and then I go to bed happy.”
Then we are presented to the mockumentary part. Now you can see who Robichaud is, she’s the director of this documentary. And this fictional documentary is pretty much about being gay. What love means to them, how different they think of their own personal relationships and how can they differ, if they differ, with the heterosexual and so on. It feels really natural and authentic.
I loved the pilot when I saw it at the beginning of the year, it was really good.  Once you see the rest of the episodes, you easily realize everything is in the pilot, every bit of creativity that is present in the pilot works well throughout the rest of the episodes.
What you can immediately see with the Pilot is the series’ authenticity. The acting and how natural it feels. The look of it. How balanced it is the fiction with the fictional documentary. And then that last punch moment (that comes with every other episode) where you have the actresses Suzanne Clément and Hélène Florent sitting next to our close friends Léa and Émilie and have a smooch. Yes, obviously, it’s still fiction, acting within the acting, but it is like a bomb, a bomb of laughter. Because it is so good – and the actresses playing Léa and Émilie kill it with their expressions.
I still look at this scene and crack like the first time.

Episode 2 - Céline & Julie.
In this older younger relationship, Robichaud searches for a representation of the new generation of women in Quebec, bringing these women from different generations. Like when Céline, the recently divorced, asks her younger friend Julie, if twenty four year olds’ believe in love.
You can see Robichaud’s sensitivity with Céline. She’s not here just for showing off lesbians and/or lesbians’ lives, she’s thoughtful about every single character. She brings them humanity. And always warm giggles.

Episode 3 – Steph & Sam.
This episode is beautiful, subtle, dimensional and especially heartfelt. Again, Robichaud brings a story of a couple, apparently steady, actually looking maybe to start a family of their own, but instead of being struck with the excitement of a new life they are hit by lightning, when Sam discovers she has cancer. It’s another beautiful exploitation, in this case, how things can turn opposite sides completely. It’s life.

Episode 4 – Noémie.
 “Noémie knows that she’s gay. She just hasn’t kissed anyone yet.”
This is the coming of age episode, one could say. A tender look on youth. It’s so well written, just in nine minutes, she tells a story that sometimes takes a feature film, and the timings, always so on point. This is like a short lighter version of films like “Fucking Amal”.

Episode 5 – Alex & Anne.
The juicy episode. This is the episode I giggle every second of the way. The comedy timing is to perfection. And the acting - this brilliant scene where they are in a restaurant trying not be awkward but being totally awkward. It’s a treat. When the awkward turns cute.
I should be talking about this series’ soundtrack already. It’s so bloody great. The choices for each particular scene, the opening credits, etc. Damn it Canada.

Episode 6 – Émilie & Maude.
Émilie decides to move in with Maude, a woman she fell in love with very recently.
This episode starts with a harsh break up, like every other relationship that last for four years probably, but as the episode progresses, it just gets funnier and funnier. That last scene when Émilie looks a bit trapped and just unsure to her saying yes to the moving in, it’s everything.

Episode 7 – Le Chalet.
Chloé Robichaud reunites the girls for a weekend out in the country side. It’s hilarious.

Laughing out loud.

Episode 8 – F/F.
The timing of this show is impeccable. The way Robichaud is able to incorporate the mockumentary and fiction, you don’t feel any distance from one to the other, nothing feels disconnected, you contemplate the whole as the whole and it is pretty consistent. It doesn’t even feel like breaks because it is natural. It’s all in the way she decided to write the show, the thematic lines, the way she talks about these women’s lives, so it all makes sense when they’re answering the questions Robichaud asks. 
So, the consistency, the writing, the acting, the music choices, the quality of these web series stands alongside TV front runners, actually better. Way better. I shouldn't even mention The L Word because it is degrading for F/F to be put in the same sentence. I guess this is what Ilene might have once wanted her show to have been like. But the truth is that The L Word is still part of the very few mainstream TV shows entirely based on lesbian characters.
Féminin Féminin just breaks out in this new Internet generation for a new wave of accomplished queer shows, that don't need to worry about breaking barriers and being unapologetic but just are filled with talent and the opportunity to create something unique.

About Féminin/Féminin.

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