Two's Views Film Review
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Director: Stephan Elliott
JC: Imagine a movie with this title, and this plot. No, don't try to imagine it - go see it. I didn't guess the real quality this film has. It's the most fun I've had watching a film lately. It's certainly the biggest surprise of this movie season.
Mary: I was surprised too! Somehow director Stephan Elliott managed to take difficult subject matter, homosexuality, and reduce it to a minor aspect of the film. Priscilla is about the relationships between three men who happen to be homosexual and drag queens. What they do becomes less important as the film goes on and WHO they are becomes more important. It is a real adult film. There is a lot to think about and a lot to see. I was in awe at the colorful, flashy, bizarre costumes.
JC: I hope our readers will take a chance and see Priscilla. There are five very capable performances. Three straight actors, Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, play the drag queens. They're fully believable, and thoroughly likeable. Bill Hunter plays a rugged denizen of the outback, a very masculine man, who forms a genuine relationship with Bernadette, the only transsexual of the drag trio.
All the performers claim to have had fun making the film. It shows in the great care with which they played their roles.
Mary: Definitely ditto on all the performances. The dialogue is also superb, although the accents get in the way of some great lines. This minor flaw only made me want to see it again to see what I missed.
It is rare when a film awakens so many perspectives and touches on so many aspects of relationships without exploitation, or manipulation. The starkness of the Australian desert and indigenous peoples contributed to the richness of the film. The overall feeling was a kind of tongue in cheek look at sexuality. In this film sexuality is just a small part of life.
JC: This seems to be the season of the homosexual in film. Some of the offerings have been decidedly better than others. Philadelphia was a great dramatic piece. Priscilla is fun and very human. I think part of its success is because the sexual issues aren't flung in the viewer's face. Anybody who can't enjoy this movie must really be uptight.
The look of the film is also part of its success. The costumes are outrageous, poking great fun at Hollywood musicals of a half-century ago. They explode in contrast to the rugged, beautiful Australian desert, and the old purple bus is the only vehicle that could possibly have united those images. Screenwriter/director Elliot showed a touch of genius.
Mary: I don't know about this being the season for the homosexual in film. I do know that when I tell people about it, it is difficult to get the point across that it is a good film. I kept waiting for the scene I would become uncomfortable with...the scene never came. In fact, I was always pleasantly surprised with what did happen. Hopefully, the word will spread that it is a wonderful film because we need more thoughtful films like this one that put serious topics into perspective with courage and humor.
© 1996, J. C. Adamson & Mary Baker