Constance Wu feels right in indie queer film ‘The Feels’

"The Feels" | Provenance Pictures Grade: B-
Provenance Pictures/Frameline /Courtesy
"The Feels" | Provenance Pictures
Grade: B-

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“The jet just hit my vagina and it felt really good!”

In the quirkiest scenes of “The Feels,” each attendee of Andi (Constance Wu) and Lu’s (Angela Trimbur) bachelorette weekend shares the story of their first orgasm through documentary-style talking heads. These scenes are merely charming and comedic, up until Lu’s reveal that she has never had one.

“The Feels” was created as an “improvised comedy.” Though this improvisation feels rough and unpolished at the film’s moments of disequilibrium and overlapped speech, it also is what allows for its true-to-form groundedness and authenticity.

Wu — whose comedy chops have been proven on ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” — subverts former queer leading-lady tropes in her performance as Andi. Though introduced as goofy and comical, she acts as the film’s emotional heart, following her fiancee with puppy-dog eyes and playing truthfully her character’s imperfect, unbridled love.

When approached by friends after Lu’s aforementioned tense revelation, Andi apprehensively describes, “This feels like an intervention.” The film itself often feels like “The Intervention,” Clea DuVall’s directorial debut from last year’s San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival. Both films feature a comedic ensemble with superb chemistry in a supposedly happy situation gone awry — yet starkly differ in the respective centrality of queerness within both.

“The Intervention” somewhat evenly divides its focus between four couples, one of which is queer. “The Feels,” however, centers primarily on a queer relationship. In “The Feels,” queerness can be found left, right, center and everywhere in between, simply because — in a rewarding, realistic choice — at least one friend of the central lesbian couple is not straight. While this detail may appear banal, a lack of multiple queer characters is a simple tell of whether a movie about LGBTQ+ people is actually just made for straight people, such as 2015’s cringey “Jenny’s Wedding.”

The film’s refusal to pan the camera away during Andi and Lu’s affectionate moments is a striking break from the mere morsels typically given to queer viewers of films with LGBTQ characters. Every shot of the couple is a statement written in bold, an insistence that queer stories are to be told, emphasized and characterized as more than just side plots.

There will be a screening of ‘The Feels’ on Friday, June 16 at 9:15 p.m. at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco as part of Frameline41, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival.

Contact Caroline Smith at [email protected].

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