Cloudburst: Simply a Story of Love

Cloudburst Olympia_Dukakis_Ryan_DoucetteIt’s always a pleasant surprise when you sit down to watch a movie ahead of interviewing the director – only to find yourself curled up for 93 minutes switching between bellowing laughter and sniffling tears.

The Canadian feature film ‘Cloudburst’ is about to hit Australian shores. It tells the story of an elderly lesbian couple who – after 31 years together – must flee from the US to Canada to tie the knot. Academy award winner Olympia Dukakis (Stella) and Brenda Fricker (Dot) embark on the Thelma and Louise-esque adventure after Dot’s granddaughter attempts to move her into an aged care facility. Early on in the dash over the border, they pick up the young and handsome hitchhiker Prentice, who joins them on their rollercoaster journey to married life.

One thing that is notable throughout the film is the crude sense of humour. Entrenched in foul language and sexual references, director Thom Fitzgerald explained to OUTinPerth how the script hit some obstacles during production,

“Olympia and Brenda were not sure they could bring themselves to say such things on screen, but they say they’re actors, so the script is their bible, which I guess would make me their God!” he laughed.

“By the time the film had finished I’d written maybe half of the dirty words in the movie, the rest, once those two were allowed to curse, I could not stop them!”

Most guilty for crude language is the stereotypical butch half of the butch-fem couple:

“I know a lot of women like Stella that are foulmouthed dykes. [Stella and Dot] are part of traditional lesbian culture. I personally love stereotypes, I always laugh though because I really can’t think of any movie with a butch lesbian hero. She may be a stereotype but she’s certainly not a movie stereotype!”

With Olympia Dukakis making a comeback into a gay project (she played a central role in TV adaptation of the very queer ‘Tales of the City’), Fitzgerald explained why the LGBT audience are so drawn to her performances.

“Gay audiences are particularly attracted to her, she was never the leading lady, she was always a much more interesting outsider that the gay and lesbian audiences can relate to. She always brings outsiders point of view to her work and gay and lesbian audiences really love that”.

With a convincing script that tells the story of two people in long-term love, Fitzgerald acknowledged that although the film could be used to spread the message of equal love, it is open to interpretation.

“The story is told from Stella’s point of view, and I don’t think it’s about politics at all, she’s thinking about what’s in her heart, that’s what you think about when you’re going to get married”.

If there’s one message Fitzgerald wants you to take from the movie, it’s this:

“No matter how long you’ve been in love or how well you think you’ve known somebody, it’s always possible to discover more”.

‘Cloudburst’ is screening at Cinema Paradiso in Northbridge from July 18, on Friday July 19 GRAI will be holding a fundraiser screening of the film at 7pm with drinks from 6:15pm, for tickets email [email protected]  

Nadine Walker

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