WHO AM I NOW is an intensely personal project for writer-director Louise E. Lathey. The story is based loosely on her own life and the troubles she had coming out. I’m not just speculating, by the way; she wrote a whole article about it that you should absolutely check out when we’re done here. I won’t keep you long.
Let’s get the first part out of the way: This film is rough around the edges. We move from one scene to the next without substantial connective tissue or establishing shots. Long scenes of shot-reverse-shot dialogue are set against flat white walls or black backgrounds. The audio mix is all over the place. If you’re looking for a glossy studio picture, you’re gonna be disappointed.
But there is a glistening, juicy middle. And if you’re looking for a hand-crafted love letter to awkward lesbians(!!) coming to terms with conflicted, confusing feelings from somebody who has obviously been one, you’ll walk away with something.
Putting aside the way she is exactly my type — because that’s definitely TMI and beyond the scope of this review — Joanna Gaskell is the treasure here. Her Alex is so uncomfortable inside her own body, so acutely aware of everything around her even as she simultaneously has no idea how to move around the space. Ugh, adorable.
I mean, look at this shit:
That’s her on the left going for the post-date handshake like an absolute unit.
Amazing. I love her.🥰 🥰
Alex’s through-line starts as a sudden, lightning strike, love-at-first-sight situation.
Shot from below, she looks like a panther surveying her domain. Sexy, cool, leather-clad. In control. Then, she sees a woman in a red dress dancing alone in the club, and is basically a total disaster until the end of the movie.
Now, if you made it this far into my review, I can tell you’re going to enjoy this film. But Gaskell isn’t the only actor showing up having understood the assignment. Alethea Sholomenko gets some meaty scenes to chew through as Alex’s friend Jules. The scenes with the two of them alone are my favorite in the film; they have a sturdy chemistry, and Jules gets to jump into my second favorite trope: the friend who is like, “wait, you thought I didn’t know you were gay?”
The other actors are good enough to get the job done, which mostly consists of sitting down and having long talks about everything except what they’re feeling. I suspect we’re dealing with a “hey, come be in my movie” process. In fact, Erin (the woman in the red dress) is played by Alicia C. Snee, who has a ton of series credits as a dolly and key grip.
She’s acted in a bunch of stuff, too; I don’t mean to imply she’s some geek off the street. While Alex’s awkwardness presents as clumsiness, Erin tries to mask hers with impulsive bravado, which puts her as the instigator of most of their physical interactions. Snee shines in those moments. And she’s got a real handle on the self-loathing aspect of Erin’s character.
My favorite shot in the movie is a hard cut from Jules asking Alex “Who’s the lucky lady?” to Erin, bathed in Tinda-Approved™ Bisexual Lighting and feeling like shit after sleeping with their mutual friend Zack (Cameron Paisley) to, I don’t know, prove she isn’t gay maybe?
She doesn’t know either, which is the point.
Yeah, I’ve been there. You have too, probably.
I can see myself in both of these women. Lathey certainly does. And because Alex and Erin are based on parts of her own struggles, their tenuous relationship functions as an allegory (or at the very least a metaphor) for coming to terms with yourself. And loving yourself, obviously. Kissing, fingering, and… well, you get the idea. I don’t know if that is deliberate, and the theme doesn’t hold up all the way to the end. It’s interesting to think about, though.
All in, I liked this honest, vulnerable little story a lot more than I expected. And if you’ve made it to the end of this ponderous review I’m gonna assume you liked it too. Or you worked on this project. If so, I want to say thanks for putting this labor of love together for us. And me, specifically.
You made a movie!
And if you’re Joanna Gaskell, I… um… heh. Hi.