The Sympathy Card: Lesbian Comedy About Bad First Dates and Cancer
The Amsterdam LGBTQ Film Festival, or Roze Filmdagen, is taking place March 12-22. Because of the Roze Filmdagen, I know some new queer titles you can watch. The first one I can review for you is an American comedy: The Sympathy Card.
In The Sympathy Card, Emma has lung cancer and it’s not going well. She presents her new wife Josie a deathbed order. Is that a thing now? Apparently, it is. Josie needs to find someone new while Emma is still around to approve of her choice. Josie goes on some bad dates before developing feelings for her florist Siobhan. Below, you can find what I thought of the movie. In de video, you can find a clip from the movie!
Before watching The Sympathy Card
I have to say that beforehand, I was a bit reluctant to watch The Sympathy Card. I have a personal history with cancer. Consequently, I try to avoid being drawn into super sad stories about it. This movie is described as a comedy, though.
I decided to watch the trailer. In the first one I watched, there was no mention of cancer, just bad dates, and a romance. I decided to watch the second trailer, which did cover the cancer part. I noticed that this was the level I could handle. So, I asked the team for the press screener and I watched it. If you have a personal history with cancer too, it might be a good idea to watch the trailer first.
The Sympathy Card is not very realistic
start off by saying that the storyline is not very realistic. Not every choice
made in this story makes sense. Many of your questions will be left unanswered.
For instance, how does Josie end up being so bad at dates? It almost seems as
if her date with Emma is her first date ever. Who was she before the opening of
issue I have with this whole idea is: how big of a sex drive do you expect your
character to have when the one she loves is dying and she’s taking care of her wife
until she dies? It’s already a stage of mourning. I think anyone who has ever
lost somebody close to them can tell you that it’s not your peak moment.
Whether your wife orders you to flirt with people or not.
The bad dates are
unrealistic part of the movie for a second. I thoroughly enjoyed watching all
the bad dates. It’s reassuring that there are people out there who are worse
actor is as good as the other, but I enjoyed Josie’s responses and the moments
she’s talking to herself, which turn already awkward dates even more awkward. I may have a crush on the florist now too,
even though she has some tricks up her sleeve as well. And some sexy scenes
are, well, sexy. So, despite the many questions I had, the surprises that come
your way and the awkward moments kept me watching the movie until the end.
had enough of watching coming-out stories? Have you had enough of watching
teens or college girls? If so, the Sympathy Card might bring something new to
the table. Instead of a coming-of-age movie, it’s about the end of life. If I
had to guess the characters’ age, I’d guess they are in their thirties. It’s
about a married couple deciding how to live their (short) lives together from
now on, rather than a wedding being the final event in a movie. Those are all
things you don’t see very often in movies from our community.
Where can you watch it?
On its website, the team states that they had a festival run last year and that they hope to bring the movie to more festivals this spring. On the Facebook page, you can read that The Sympathy Card will be shown at the Roze Filmdagen and Melbourne Queer Film Festival in March. You can also find the movie on Twitter and Instagram. I suggest you follow those accounts to stay up to date about festival dates. Hopefully, you will soon discover when and where you can watch the movie online.
A few months ago, you were able to read my review of Good Kisser. At ClexaCon in April, I was able to interview the cast. I had not watched the movie yet, but I did have some questions for Rachel Paulson, Kari Alison Hodge, and Julia Eringer. You can read my interview with the Good Kisser cast below this image or watch the video.
The Good Kisser cast is
preparing for the premiere
Me: “Am I
correct that you had your premiere last night?”
was a sneak preview.”
we’re having our official premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival,
which we’re really excited about.”
“That SIFF life!”
was the response yesterday?”
was great. People were laughing, like so, so much.”
keep saying, I didn’t realize how funny the movie was until I watched it, and I
was in a room of people that were laughing hysterically.”
was really funny, and I think not just to us, who… Obviously, we find each
other and the situations we’ve been in funny. The jokes were landing, and it
people also laughing at things you didn’t expect?”
I didn’t expect half of those laughs.
I was literally like oh, well, that was funny. But when I was laughing, the
room was laughing with me as well.”
The Good Kisser cast may have been nervous
we were very nervous.”
was like two drinks in. You know what I mean?”
was the most nervous.”
was the most nervous. Definitely.”
Kari: “Were you nervous?”
wasn’t nervous to see it. I was just nervous about the Q&A afterward.”
The Good Kisser cast was present for a Q&A after the sneak preview
did they ask you during the Q&A?”
asked us what it was like to watch it. And yeah, we said the same thing about
the comedy and also when the sex scenes were coming up. I was going to Rachel:
round one! Okay, round one done, now round two, what’s that going to be. You
know, because there are three rounds.”
“Yeah, we were sitting together like: here we go! We were all holding hands.”
it was fun, though, because I don’t know about you guys, but I relaxed pretty
soon. As soon as I saw that beautiful drone aerial shot, right at the beginning,
I was like: this is beautiful.”
was like oh, we’re okay.”
okay, and it’s always nerve-racking because if you haven’t seen the film and
you’re watching with a bunch of other people, you just don’t know how it’s
going to go.
Besides sex scenes, what more can we expect from the storyline?
you tell us what the movie is about, for those who don’t know? We now know
there are sex scenes in it.”
“Many, many sex scenes.”
“Spoiler alert. It’s about three people. These two gorgeous ladies play a
couple, and I play a very independent woman. We have one night, a date night,
the three of us, where we’ve arranged to spend the evening together and just
see what happens.”
“That is the best interpretation of the movie. I really like that. It was so
cute. I was so much harsher than you guys. It takes place in one night.
Essentially, we decided to spice up our relationship to bring in a woman, and
there are some secrets unraveled.”
“There are a lot of secrets, for sure. Everybody’s keeping secrets.”
“That’s what makes it interesting. Every
character has at least one thing they’re hiding from the other two characters.”
The Good Kisser cast discusses power levels
drew you in? Was it the comedy or something else?”
was drawn in more from the emotional side, not from the comedic side. From the
different levels of power between each couple, and the self-esteem issues, and
all the idiosyncrasies of each character and how they interact.”
it’s funny. I think any time you have three characters in… It takes place in
one location one night. That’s very, very intimate, you know. If you don’t like
the three of us, you probably don’t like the film because it’s us. It’s us the
whole time. Because of that, you really get into these three characters, and
you see the dynamics at play, and the politics between all of them in the
different relationships that are there. I love movies like that.”
me, it was something I had never seen before. There are so many movies about,
you know, different types of relationships. But I had never really seen a
script that was literally just the story of three people’s relationships and
how amazing it can be but at the same time how crazy that can make everyone
feel. And all these secrets and all that stuff. I think the threesome situation
was really an interesting concept for me in the script.”
there anything that stood out to you while filming? Maybe a scene?”
“Yeah, I think the mask scene. When we all saw that, we were kind of like: oh,
that’s what they were doing.”
we were shooting it, it was incredibly awkward at first. Incredibly awkward. And
we were just relying on each other and feeling out the moments. Because we were
doing some very, very intimate things, and there was a crew of people watching
us like a theater show. But we were just kind of winging it. We were just like:
“Let’s do this, I guess.”
And oftentimes when you watch a movie and characters are dancing, they don’t
get music when they’re acting. Right? So, we’re just dancing to no music for
most of the takes. It feels…”
people watching these incredibly intimate moments that you know… If you’re
having those moments with people in real life, there are no people watching you.”
For the Good Kisser cast, it sometimes felt like a play
And if you’re dancing with someone in real life, there’s probably music
playing. And when you’re making out, and it’s getting to this place where
you’re starting to become attracted to each other, there’s not a room full of
people watching you. And, like you were saying, it was a lot like a play. We
were playing out this entire scene, a long scene, and it was really blocked out.
We had to hit all of these different areas, and we were walking through this
whole scene. And we were like: how are they even going to edit this? I didn’t
understand, and then we saw it, and we were like, oh, I get it.”
Diving into their
the characters close to you in real life, or did you really have to dive into them?”
every character that I do, I completely create their own history and their own
memories. So, I’m never mixing my personal history with the character. That’s
just how I work.”
the opposite, which is interesting. I always try to pull pieces of the
character from my own… I also do the background thing, but I try to pull pieces
of whoever I’m playing from my actual experiences. Because I feel like that
helps to ground it for me. I think that’s cool that you do that and I do this,
and it’s a completely different thing. I definitely think Kate has some things
that are mine. She also has some things that aren’t mine.”
guess I do a combination. I’m playing her so there’s a lot of me in her but…
And again, as Rachel said, I will try to use things. You know, I’ll try to use
things that turn me on, when Mia is going to be turned on rather than
fabricating things that would turn Mia on and try to get turned on by those,
for example. But yeah, she’s very different from me. Probably it was the
biggest jump for someone, me from Julia to Mia. I don’t know; for me, it seemed
quite a big jump. She’s just very free, very experimental. She marches to the
beat of her own drum. It was a challenge for sure. She’s fun.”
When and where can you watch the Good Kisser cast and movie?
BiPositive Podcast Interviewed Me. This is What We Talked About!
You may know that I occasionally get to interview interesting LGBT+ people and allies on my international con trips. Well, a while back, I was interviewed myself, and that was a refreshing experience. It is funny to be on the other side. Mari and MD invited me for an episode of BiPositive Podcast. Thanks for the invite and the relaxed conversation!
Fun fact: we are all living in The Hague, and we were all at ClexaCon London, but we didn’t know about each other. We found out about it on social media afterward. So, this is the first time we met!
In this blog post, I will highlight some of the subjects we discussed. As we talked for about an hour, this is only a small part, and you should definitely listen to the entire episode! You can follow BiPositive Podcast on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can listen to the episode on a bunch of websites, including iTunes and SoundCloud.
BiPositive Podcast: the start of Meemoeder.com
I think most of my followers abroad know me from my LGBT+ con trips but have no idea what meemoeder stands for and why my website is called this way. It was indeed the first question I was asked.
Simply put, meemoeder is the word the Dutch government gives the non-biological mom of a married lesbian couple that has a kid together. When my wife was pregnant, I was looking for experiences from other lesbian moms, but I could not find any. I could only find info from the government and lawyers. Also, at almost every parenting blog, I was addressed as a father, which started to bug me after a while.
So, I started to describe my own experience (in Dutch) so that others would not end up in the same situation as me. This is my way of giving back to the LGBT+ community. I am now one of the first search results, which means others can find me easily.
I noticed I always somehow ended up talking about movies as they are one of my passions. Then, I saw videos of the first ClexaCon edition on YouTube, and I received a press pass for the second edition. That’s how this whole English version of my website and my YouTube channel came into existence. Funny how things sometimes go, right?!
BiPositive Podcast: being a lesbian parent among other parents
Mari and MD wanted to know how it feels to be a lesbian parent among other parents. Thankfully, most of the time, there is no difference. I do remember two incidents when things were different for me.
One funny situation occurred at Schiphol Airport when we were taking a trip to the U.S. and Canada when our son was eleven months old. We did not even think about bringing his birth certificate. That caused some problems when we tried to leave The Netherlands.
The border control told us that they could not see if he was our baby. We were finally allowed to go on our trip by saying he has my wife’s looks and my last name, and that we were both wearing the same wedding rings. We were pretty scared when we crossed the American-Canadian border that trip, but nothing happened, fortunately.
One not so funny situation occurred a while back. I had an appointment somewhere and what often happens during such an appointment, is that you start talking about your family. You know the type of appointments, like at the hairdresser.
This woman started asking how we got our son, and I explained. Then, she started calling him my wife’s son, and I constantly had to say ‘our son.’ And it’s not like you can leave the appointment halfway through, so it’s just awkward all around.
I don’t know why but I started showing her pictures. Then, she started saying things like: “Oh yes, he really looks like her. Oh, that’s really a momma’s boy.” It hurt me, but I still have no idea how to respond. I did turn it into a Dutch blog post.
BiPositive Podcast: social stigma
Mari and MD also wondered if we were worried about a social stigma for our kid before my wife became pregnant. I answered that we still are. I guess we’ll find out when he goes to school.
Right now, at his daycare center, it is no problem at all because toddlers don’t know any better. We are hopeful that things are better for him now than they were for me growing up. I think there is a change in how kids deal with homosexuality nowadays. Therefore, we hope his teenage years will be okay.
The one thing that we try to teach him is confidence. If you have confidence, you can speak up or fight back when something bad happens. If nothing bad happens, well great, you have confidence.
Our episode of BiPositive Podcast
I focused on the lesbian parenting part in this blog post as it is something I rarely talk about on the English version of my website. I thought it would be nice to give you my ideas on this topic for a change. We talked about plenty of other topics. As Mari and MD are from Ukraine and France, we talked about the differences in our cultures and in how safe we feel being queer. Naturally, ClexaCon and queer representation in media came up. SO, I encourage you to go to iTunes or SoundCloud and to listen to our episode of BiPositive Podcast!
As you may know, I visited ClexaCon London in November last year. I have been publishing the interviews of the press room but I have not had the time yet to write down everything about my experience there. So, here are all my ClexaCon London Friday adventures! Below this image, you can also find my vlog.
Flight to London
November 1, I flew to London for ClexaCon’s first international pop-up event. The official event was on Saturday and Sunday but since I know that ClexaCon always has fun activities for us before the event, I flew in a little early. That Thursday, I walked around London a bit and enjoyed the view from Tate Modern.
The next day, I wanted to vlog at the ClexaCon London Friday activities. There was a bus tour but since I have visited London more than once, I did not buy a ticket for it. Still, I wanted to see if I knew some participants and I wanted to see how excited everybody was for the event.
Well, I didn’t. I could not find the bus. I did not know the official meeting point, so I just wandered around Trafalgar Square until I saw some queer people near a bus. It turned out it was somewhere near that square. Hashtag fail.
ClexaCon London Friday activities: screening of I Can’t Think Straight
I visited the British Museum before I headed to the Prince Charles Cinema, where I Can’t Think Straight was screened. It was the movie’s tenth anniversary.
I did not want to visit the actual screening though as I had recently watched the movie. I was told I could pick up my press pass there. Unfortunately, as I expected, the press passes weren’t there. I already thought it sounded kind of random. One of the organizers told me that they had thought about it but decided not to. Oh well, I was planning on going to the badge pick-up party later that night anyway.
I was kind of nervous going to the screening if I’m honest. I knew I would see some of you there. My YouTube channel has received quite some attention after visiting Love Fan Fest, so I didn’t know how people would react. And when you’re already nervous, things seem way worse than they really are, right? I saw some familiar faces and some new ones. Sorry if I was being weird, I just felt like a lot of eyes were watching me. It was probably imaginary 😉 At that point, I wished I had not been so active on the relevant hashtags…
Badge pick-up party
I arrived at the badge pick-up party a little late. That was great though because now, I was able to pick up the press pass immediately. I did not have to wait in line for a long time. I saw some people I already knew, some people I met at the screening, and some new people.
Mandahla Rose and Nicole Pacent hung out at the party as well. I was wondering if they recognized me from ClexaCon Vegas because, you know, they meet so many people at these events. Turns out they did.
Historic moment: I met Emma. Who? She co-wrote and directed the lesbian short film The Date (get your copy!). We met online a few weeks earlier and this Friday evening, we finally met in real life. Loved talking to her! Also, she now adds her magic to my videos. See what an event like ClexaCon can do for our community?
In November, Sheetal Sheth (actor), Shamim Sarif (director), and Hanan Kattan (producer) visited ClexaCon London to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their movie I Can’t Think Straight. Fortunately, they also came to the press room. We were able to ask them some questions about their movies I Can’t Think Straight and The World Unseen, about queer roles, and about future projects. Not the entire fifteen-minute interview is written down below. So, if you want to know more, please watch the video below this image.
If you had unlimited time and budget, what would you change about I Can’t Think Straight if anything?
Shamim: The changes would be subtle: the shot making, the editing, some of the direction. I think that is just part of evolving as an artist. I think you would feel that for a song you have written ten years ago or a novel. So, what I tried to do at the end of that screening [ClexaCon held an anniversary screening of the movie on Friday] was think: “Wow, look at the impact it is having. People get the core of it.” So, I should not be pernickety whether a steady cam would have been nice here or there. But I think it is just having more tools […], that would be fun to experiment with.
Hanan: And very expensive [laughs].
Shamim: And very expensive. And often I think time is a pressure for movies. With a bit more time, actors would be able to explore their characters more, there would be more ideas, and we would have been able to shoot scenes that were supposed to be in the film but never made it. That would be great. I think it is time that would be more of a luxury.
More time and money
Sheetal: I think it is the same. For more time, you need more money, so that is usually why you do not have a lot of time. For an actor, it is really about having the space to do your work and generally, in smaller movies, you do not have that much, you know. You have to deliver the moment you get there because of time. I am very proud of the film but of course, if we had more time, we could have maybe expounded something else or explored something else or maybe done a cool shot from a different angle. You know, you can spend a day on a scene, which a lot of movies are afforded to do and you can really find so much in that.
On the other hand, there is also something really organic and spontaneous that happens in an environment of small films. I have done so many independent films. If you have the right people involved and the right kind of hearts involved, and everybody knows what to expect when they go there and do not get caught up on the fact that you do not have that stuff, you can really create in a different space, which is also very exciting.
Hanan: For me, besides the money factor and time, is to have some pre-sale distribution in place, because it guarantees a wider release. For that to happen, people need to know they can invest the money and know that there is a bigger release. But if you are a first-time or second-time movie, that is not that easy.
As queer women, what are your feelings on the importance of having queer actors portraying queer characters?
Shamim: It is actually something that has come up more recently for me as we cast our next film Polarized. It gives queer women more opportunity. I think there are two things. Here has been such a taboo in Hollywood for women to come out because it feels it is killing their career as a heterosexual portrayal. So, I think it is nice to share the other side of that. That you can have queer women play queer characters.
At the same time, I do not think it should be a limitation. In the same way that I do not think queer women should not play heterosexual characters. On a practical level, sales and distribution, sometimes people want a name. If the only name you can think of is Kristen Stewart and she is busy that moment, there are probably not enough queer actors with enough profile to pre-finance a movie. That is another consideration that people do not want to talk about but it is a reality of making film.
Hanan: Whoever suits the role the most. I think it is limiting. It is really the person, do they fit, the chemistry there, can they do it and do it with justice? For me, it is irrelevant as long as they portray the character well.
Sheetal [not queer]: I think it is a very tricky thing. First of all, I think the labeling of an actress in any way is the problem. You are not a queer actress: you are an actress who in your personal life is gay. To me, your sexuality should be irrelevant in the sense that you are in your workspace.
But I totally understand the idea that if that somehow has become something you are labeled with, and you are not able to get jobs as a heterosexual person in a movie… This whole conversation is like… But this is the world we live in, right? If it is a problem, then, of course, you should be able to have the roles that are written for someone who is gay.
But to me, as an actress, I am not interested in playing myself. It is about stretching. There is no point in being an actress if you are only going to do the same thing over and over again. But I do think, as a producer and a content creator, you should just be open to hiring people of all backgrounds, making sure there is a seat at the table for everybody, whatever that may mean. But I do not think that can be the only factor; I think it is a more holistic way of making movies.
What does it mean to you personally and to your career to be at an event like ClexaCon London?
Sheetal: It is so exciting. I still cannot believe I Can’t Think Straight has been ten years. Obviously, The World Unseen as well. I could never have imagined the impact that these movies have had on so many. You hope for that. You know, you hope that when you make art, that impacts somebody at some point other than yourself. I think to be invited and welcomed in this way is really sweet and lovely.
The things that I am hearing from meeting everybody and also being able to meet fans that have been messaging and tweeting me and then finally being able to put a face to a name has been really exciting. And then also hearing what it is. What is the story? Hearing in person what the story is and what it has done and why.
Happy ending I Can’t Think Straight
Sheetal: What I keep hearing about I Can’t Think Straight is the happy ending, which I did not realize, is so rare in stories having to do with two women. I am like: “Is that true?” And they are like: “Yeah, actually, either someone dies or there are drugs or there is something.” How is that supposed to give anybody hope? I just do not even understand. Honestly, it blew my mind when I kept hearing over and over ‘thank you for this.’ I did not even write the movie. I learn. I am learning a ton. The fact that that seems to be the reality for this type of content is troubling. It is shocking.
She asks Shamim if she knew this. Shamim: I did not actually, but I am terrible…
After I Can’t Think Straight
Hanan: No, it is after I Can’t Think Straight. It is based on us really [points to Shamim, her wife], some fiction. So, it is amazing how it has affected women. Many women have come out as a result of this film in particular.
Sheetal: The coming-out scene. Word for word, people will quote me. They say: “This is what I said too.” I am like: “Oh my Gosh, you did?”
Hanan: Yes. A lot of women have felt more comfortable in their skin. Maybe some have not come out still but they feel better about themselves. That it is okay to have such feelings or to go through this and to come out. So, coming to events like this is very important to continue with spreading the message and reaching more people.
Sheetal: And giving it the space and the pedigree that it deserves. You do not want to be in the corner. You absolutely have… Everybody has the right to have their own voice and space heard. And so, for ClexaCon to do that, that is really great for them.
More I Can’t Think Straight
As mentioned, this is not the full interview. You can hear more in my video. Do not forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and share my videos. That really helps with future trips to LGBT+ cons. This matters because I aim to bring the cons home to people who cannot go to them themselves. It only takes a few seconds to help our beautiful community!
Have not watched I Can’t Think Straight yet? You can find the movie on Amazon or in iTunes.
In this Short & Sweet LGBTQ Movie Review, I discuss With a Kiss I Die, which was released a few hours ago. It tells the story of Juliet Capulet (of Shakespearean fame), who is plucked from death and turned into a vampire. She is forced to live all eternity without her sweet Romeo. Now, 800 years later, Juliet meets a young woman, who captures her heart again. But Juliet’s new family, headed by a blood-thirsty patriarch, disapproves of the pairing. Juliet must once again choose between love and family obligations, terrified that repeating her past mistakes will lead to even more tragedy.
The combination of Shakespeare and vampires had me intrigued but also scared: would it be any good? I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the preview. Below, I will list three things that I like about With a Kiss I Die and at the end of the blog post, you will read what the perfect mood is for watching this movie. If you prefer video, you can watch my three-minute review below this image.
What I liked about With a Kiss I Die: not intended to be an LGBTQ movie
With a Kiss I Die was never intended to be a lesbian or LGBTQ movie. As I was informed, director Ronnie Khalil was looking to give the best parts to the best actors, not just actors that fit the mold. He made the decision to cast a woman as Juliet’s love interest as well as the decision to cast a black woman as Juliet, who historically is an Italian character.
“It was originally just a boy/girl love story but when we were casting, we liked a lot of the girls auditioning and my casting director suggested pairing them up,” says Khalil. “I was open to the idea and when we had them read together, it really made the script pop.”
Khalil and his writing team then decided not to rewrite the script because characters changed gender. That means you will find no lesbian clichés in this movie. It is not a coming-out story or any other story we have seen over and over again. The two main characters being two women in love never is a topic of discussion. It just is. I find that very refreshing.
What I liked about With a Kiss I Die: almost like watching a play
With a Kiss I Die feels like watching a play. It is very theatrical in a way. I think it is in the way the colors change subtly. It is definitely in the slower pace. It is also in the way the actors have specific spots on the screen, especially during the meeting with the patriarch at the end. Without a doubt, this movie is very different from other vampire movies you may have seen.
What I liked about With a Kiss I Die: the international look and feel
With a Kiss I Die gives you a unique international look and feel. The movie was shot at two different Greek islands, which allows for beautiful colors and scenery.
In addition, the two main characters have a British and an American accent and the main supporting characters have a Greek accent when they speak English. You can tell they are all very talented. I particularly liked the actor who played the cousin. He was so animalistic, which for me was expressed mostly in the way he used his mouth. All in all, the cast was a pleasure to watch.
What is the perfect mood for watching this movie?
This movie is perfect if you want a bit of a slower night. It is also perfect if you want to watch a Shakespeare-themed movie without watching the classic adaptions over and over again. Finally, the movie is perfect if you simply want to watch two beautiful women being in love without the being women part posing the main problem of the movie.
Where can I watch it?
On the movie’s website, you can find all the ways you can watch the movie. I will share some of them with you here. You can order the DVD. For instance, Barnes and Noble has it. The movie is also widely available with Video on Demand. Examples include Amazon and iTunes. The only social media account that I found was on Facebook so you can follow the movie there. I hope you enjoy the movie!
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