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Relevant today, ‘Blue Jean’ depicts impact of anti-gay legislation in 1980s Britain : NPR


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The title character in Blue Jean, the debut characteristic by writer-director Georgia Oakley, is a lesbian gymnasium trainer on a journey of self acceptance in Margaret Thatcher’s England.


A trainer faces troublesome selections in “Blue Jean,” the primary characteristic from filmmaker Georgia Oakley. The story takes place in Nineteen Eighties England, however our critic Bob Mondello says it may simply be set in lots of American communities at the moment.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: 1988. Jean is a secondary faculty gymnasium trainer within the northeast of Britain who needs her college students to know extra than simply spike a volleyball.


ROSY MCEWEN: (As Jean) Can anybody inform me what struggle or flight means? I am not simply speaking about netball. Instincts – I am speaking about instincts. The physique responds far faster than the mind. Confronted with sudden hazard, the physique begins to reply earlier than the mind has even thought of it.

MONDELLO: Jean has been totally on the flight aspect of this equation exterior of college, protecting her non-public life non-public, listening warily to information experiences on her Walkman as she jogs each day previous a billboard headlined, are your youngsters being taught conventional ethical values?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) We care in regards to the perpetuation of the heterosexual regular household as the idea of civilized society right here and in different international locations.

MONDELLO: Maggie Thatcher’s been Britain’s prime minister for nearly a decade at this level, and her conservative authorities is within the means of passing laws stigmatizing LGBTQ folks. Jean, whereas in a long-term relationship, is actually closeted, cautious even with household.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As Sam) Who’s that?

MCEWEN: (As Jean) Sammy, that is my buddy Viv. Viv, that is Sammy.

KERRIE HAYES: (As Viv) Hiya.

MCEWEN: (As Jean) Come watch telly for 5 minutes, OK?

MONDELLO: Viv registered the equivocation there.


HAYES: (As Viv) Good friend, is it?

MCEWEN: (As Jean) He is 5.

HAYES: (As Viv) And?

MCEWEN: (As Jean) Do not.

HAYES: (As Viv) Do not what?

MCEWEN: (As Jean) Effectively, do not inform me be in me family.

HAYES: (As Viv) OK.

MONDELLO: Jean’s already-precarious place grows extra difficult when she spots a pupil within the homosexual pub she frequents, a lady who’s snug sufficient together with her sexuality to decide on not flight however struggle when bullied in school.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Me get off it (ph)?

MONDELLO: “Blue Jean” feels lived-in and speedy sufficient that it is startling to find that writer-director Georgia Oakley was simply born in 1988, when Britain’s infamous Part 28 was enshrining homophobia in legislation, or possibly not startling, given the latest push for anti-gay and anti-trans legal guidelines in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere. Oakley makes use of Nineteen Eighties information broadcasts…


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Constructive pictures of homosexuality prompted a violent response from protesting mother and father.

MONDELLO: …To display how little the unfairness and the laws it prompts has modified.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Provisions are that homosexuality should not be promoted in state faculties, and it outlaws educating the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended household relationship.

MONDELLO: Oakley’s portrait of the affect of the since-repealed Part 28 is persuasive sufficient to make “Blue Jean” really feel like a documentary at instances. The world through which Rosy McEwen’s Jean feels so embattled is recreated in chilly pastels on sometimes-grainy movie inventory, relieved with hotter reds and pinks solely when she’s at her girlfriend’s condominium or within the boisterous homosexual pub – areas the place the anxiousness she largely retains hidden may be expressed.


MCEWEN: (As Jean) If anybody discovered, I might by no means work once more.

HAYES: (As Viv) What about her?

MCEWEN: (As Jean) Who?

HAYES: (As Viv) That lady. Come on. How previous is she – what? – 16? What sort of instance are you setting for her?

MCEWEN: (As Jean) That is not honest.

HAYES: (As Viv) None of that is honest.

MONDELLO: That the characters nonetheless managed to search out hope and solidarity in neighborhood is what offers “Blue Jean” its emotional punch, a reminder that even in making an attempt instances, journeys to self-acceptance are doable. I am Bob Mondello.


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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content might not be in its remaining type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability could range. The authoritative report of NPR’s programming is the audio report.


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