Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2017. Beard Collins Shores Productions, Buffalo Gal Pictures. Screenplay by Del Shores. Cinematography by Paul Suderman. Produced by Emerson Collins, Del Shores. Music by Joe Patrick Ward. Production Design by Chad Giesbrecht. Costume Design by Sandra Soke. Film Editing by Donna Mathewson.
Del Shores has been treating audiences to the lives and loves of his quirky, campy characters for so long that he has their details down pat , and this follow up to his plays, the 2000 cult hit film Sordid Lives and the 2008 television series of the same name does not disappointment. In the dusty town of Winters, Texas, LaVonda (the outstanding Ann Walker) is still the beauty queen who trades gossip with her sister Sissy (Dale Dickey, filling in for Beth Grant) and neighbour Noleta (Caroline Rhea, who previously took over for Delta Burke on the series), the three of them increasingly alarmed by the anti-equality sentiment being shown by citizens in the wake of the 2008 Supreme court decision that has granted equal marital rights to same-sex couples. Across town, niece Latrelle (Bonnie Bedelia, who is stunning) is the icy antithesis to Sissy and LaVonda but is coming around to a more sympathetic feeling for her gay son Ty (Kirk Geiger) when he calls and tells her that he and his hsuband Kyle (T. Ashanti Mozelle) are about to become fathers. Bedelia’s personal shift on the issue eventually leads to her taking on the town’s bigoted pastor and his followers in an effort to make sure that her son and son-in-law, who have been getting married in every state as part of a publicity tour, will also make sure to do so in Texas. Charming, breezy and full of plenty of laugh out loud humour, Shores’ political message preaches to the already converted in a manner so on-the-nose that it will not go down easy with all, and is hampered by a few glaring missteps: Geiger’s infomercial-style acting is hard to watch, while Leslie Jordan‘s marvelous characterization of the girls’ gay brother is relegated to a graceless sideline plot, leaving behind the historical poignancy of his years of ex-gay therapy and institutionalization in favour of a weakly compiled series of adventures involving his dreams of achieving drag stardom and his crossing paths with a sexy serial killer. The two sides of the plot don’t mix well, but no matter, since the film works best when it’s not trying to be important, particularly the richly funny portrayals of Texan women whose worst eccentricities are presented with burning, palpable love.