LGBT films always separate themselves through their twists. Director Jennifer Reeder brings such a film with Signature Move, a film that has a unique voice. Contributing to its voice are co-screenwriters Lisa Donato and Fawzia Mirza. They have brought this film to many festivals, this year’s Inside Out being its latest stop. Mirza also stars as Zaynab, a Pakistani-American lawyer who lives with her recently widowed mother Parveen (Shabana Azmi).
Zaynab has fallen in love with zero women – and zero men – until she meets Alma (Sari Sanchez). She also moonlights as a wrestler after meeting a client whose only way of paying is through training sessions. And this is the only part of the film I dislike, when it juggles too many subplots that seem like quirk for quirk’s sake. I’m aware that characters’ lives are multidimensional. This film is a commendable and almost successful attempt at showing that.
Zaynab is sassy yet vulnerable, a gay woman who is not yet out to her mother. She lives in Chicago, a city home to many cultures and sexual orientations. But she finds it difficult to make those groups intersect. Zaynab and Alma become more than a one night stand. They take turns at demanding things from each other, but it’s mostly Alma whose asking to meet Parveen. Zaynab has legitimate fears towards that eventual meeting, since Parveen prefers her daughter to marry a man.
Alma doesn’t just make for a decent love interest. She also makes for a good foil for Zaynab’s semi-closeted status. She’s out and close to her mother. She argues to Zainab staying the closet is not just a disservice to her but to the latter’s own mother. As flawed as the film is we still get to see women of colour who help each other out.