I know I missed my post again yesterday; this has been a difficult week for me. I ended up messaging a friend in near tears last night asking for permission to not make a post. With another night of rest under my belt, and a weekend upcoming, I am feeling much better today than I have in a couple of weeks. So today I was once again able to watch a new to me movie and give it a quick post.
Desert Hearts (1985, Dir. Donna Deitch)
This film was so wonderfully gay, it made this lesbian’s heart sing. The young, out lesbian Cay (Patricia Charbonneau) fits a common trope as the persuasive lesbian on the prowl, but her younger age provides significant character depth beyond initial glance. When she falls for Vivian (Helen Shaver), Cay being 10 years younger than the professor runs counterintuitive to the tropes that would become standard in later years. Instead of an older lesbian seducing an unexpecting women through her experience, in Desert Hearts it is the younger woman who does the seducing. This builds upon Vivian’s character arc; the years she wasted in a marriage that she is in the process of terminating become more pronounced when realizing that they kept her from experiencing the kind of love that Cay provides.
The other unique aspect that Desert Hearts provides to the lesbian romance is a unique take on the love triangle through Frances (Audra Lindley). While Frances has no romantic attraction for either woman (in fact she finds Cay’s lifestyle unsavory), she shares a different, strong relationship with each. While not legally her daughter, Frances views Cay as such, and even when Cay frustrates Frances, her love is mostly unconditional. With Vivian on the other hand, Frances had just met her but is quickly considering her a good friend – a form of platonic love. The way that Vivian and Cay’s romance plays with this unconventional love triangle lends the already enjoyable Desert Hearts a welcome narrative depth to go with the classic lesbian tale.