Family and friendship dynamics are complex especially for people within the 2LGBT+ community. Members of the community get a spotlight in what is kind of a double bill, which starts out with Gender? I Hardly Know Them, which looks like a pilot for a web series which shows that allies ain’t crap.
The feature film that follows that pilot, Sweetheart, shows less certainty within the strength of the 2LGBT+ and ally relationship. AJ (Nell Barlow), out of contempt for their family, reaches away and befriends a lifeguard, Isla (Ella-Rae Smith), who works on the beach resort where they’re reluctantly vacation. Members of AJ’s family have different ways of dealing with them. Their older sister takes a loving approach, tucking them in as they pass out on the couch. Their mom, though, gives more toughness than love, which is the kind of treatment you give to a teenager who doesn’t have the decency to wipe the viscera off their faces before passing out. The mom voices out her frustration with them as they warp her motherly advice.
The people one loves, whether in a familial or romantic sense, have a way of breaking one’s heart especially when they show their love to a person who doesn’t know how to process that love. Isla says “You have no reason to tell me the truth” wrecked me. This is a balm to people who live in a community where honesty ‘matters’ but is difficult to embody since a) dating = impressing = lying and b) most 2LGBT+ don’t know the truth about themselves much less say it to someone else. There are irksome aspects here though, like AJ’s inability to see the similarities between herself, Isla and her sisters. But that’s a hump that this tale gets over better than other festival films do.