A film is set in the buildup to a classic church wedding day, where the bride throws a temper tantrum at the groom’s tardiness and the groom is off pursuing some get-rich-quick techie hijinks with buddies. It’s a confusing homage to the stoner flick with an unexpected emphasis on women in STEM, and unfortunately, also the plot of an LGBTQ+-focused film — “Freelancers Anonymous.”
“Freelancers Anonymous” feels like it was written as your usual heterosexual romantic comedy, but then its writers must have realized it needed some selling point, so they gender-bent the groom and his buddies into women and made it a queer film. After all, the same-gender wedding is inexplicably in a church, without that ever being a cause for concern or conflict, and the protagonist Billie (Lisa Cordileone) is even called the “groom-bride” — as opposed to, of course, her “bride-bride” Gayle (Natasha Negovanlis, from the lesbian vampire web series “Carmilla”).
And while this gender-bent theory likely was not the case, given the screenwriters’ background in LGBTQ+ media, the film’s subtle attempts at queer subversion fall flat. In fact, all of its jokes fall flat. Along with the fact that many of these jokes appear to be laughing at, rather than with, its largely archetypal (and, for several, seemingly racial stereotype-informed) characters, “Freelancers Anonymous” isn’t just unfunny — it’s uncomfortable.
Some may argue that the film gets a free pass as an LGBTQ+ narrative with a majority-women cast, but honestly, see “Ocean’s 8” for a film with better romantic chemistry between its two female leads. Yes, “Freelancers Anonymous” is a low-budget indie flick that’s explicitly queer, but the film is flawed from its building blocks. The screenplay provides no reasons for the audience to want to root for Billie or see her succeed, and despite a charming performance by Negovanlis as the “bride-bride,” we largely only see her character whine about her wedding or fake sex noises for an odd job.
Since the film is led by two actresses with solid backgrounds in LGBTQ+ media, one of whom is one of the film’s co-writers, the fact that the two lack chemistry is astounding. Given that queer people are by average funnier than most, the fact that the film just isn’t funny is perplexing. Now that it’s 2018, is it too much to ask for good LGBTQ+ content?
Caroline Smith is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].