The Opposite of Sex (R)
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This came out in 1998, and ever since then I've wanted to see it just because it stars Christina Ricci. But I didn't get around to watching it until 2023. At some point I may have had some vague idea of what it was about, but by the time I watched it I had no idea. Though when I put it on my list of movies I wanted to see someday, I joked that I assumed it was about me, because "I am the opposite of sex". And I ultimately chose to watch it on April 6, because it's International Asexuality Day, but of course this movie has nothing to do with asexuality. (Well, one character in one scene sounds, the way she talks, like she could be asexual... but she's probably not.) I just thought my old idea of me being the opposite of sex sort of dovetailed with my more recent idea of me being... well, asexual. In any event, I nearly stopped watching the movie a number of times, early on, because it is so fucked up in so many ways. I considered putting my review under "meh", or just not reviewing it at all. But in the end, I decided to go with my original expectation of putting my review under "serio-comedy". It's very much a black comedy, but it's also kind of dramatic. There is a lot I dislike about this movie, but I guess it has its good points. And in the end I liked it more than I thought I would early on. But I still don't know how to rate it, because I just can't decide how much I liked it versus disliking it, let alone what I think of its objective quality.
Ricci plays a 16-year-old girl named Dedee Truitt, and narrates the movie in character. Throughout the film, her narration includes plot details that the character couldn't possibly have been aware of, a fact which makes it seem like she's the sort of omniscient narrator who... well, might be narrating after her death. And that possibility gets played with a couple of times. I don't really want to say whether it happens or not, but it's not all that important, anyway. So, um... after Dedee's (possibly abusive?) stepfather dies, she runs away from her mother's home in rural Louisiana, and goes to stay with her older half brother, Bill, in suburban Indiana. He's an openly gay teacher, who lives with his younger boyfriend, Matt, who... is nice, but not all that bright. Before long, Dedee seduces Matt, and ends up getting pregnant. Spoiler: Matt isn't actually the father, she was already pregnant before moving to Indiana. But for a time he believes he is the father. The two of them steal money from Bill and run away together to Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to Matt, Dedee also steals the ashes of Bill's late boyfriend, Tom (Colin Ferguson, whom I mainly know from Eureka, though here he's only seen in flashbacks and I don't think he actually had any lines). Tom had died of AIDS some time before Bill met Matt, I guess. Another important character is Tom's sister, Lucia (pronounced "Loosha"; played by Lisa Kudrow). She seems obsessed with Bill (possibly enamored of him, which she can't admit for obvious reasons, though I could have misread that). And when Matt runs away with Dedee, another guy named Jason (Johnny Galecki) shows up, claiming to be Matt's other boyfriend, and demands that Bill tell him where Matt has gone. Unfortunately, Bill doesn't actually know, and so Jason makes a false accusation that Bill had molested him when he was in school a few years ago. Eventually, Bill learns that Matt and Dedee are in L.A., and he and Lucia go there to look for them, hoping to bring them back to Indiana and get Jason to drop the charges against Bill. There's also a local sheriff from Bill's town named Carl (Lyle Lovett), who is romantically interested in Lucia, though she seems oblivious to this, and she also hates him for a reason I won't get into. He ends up going to L.A., as well.
So, yeah, there's kind of a lot going on in this movie, and there's actually a lot more I'm not even going to go into at all. But as for what I dislike about the movie, there's the fact that Matt has an illegal sexual relationship with Dedee, and that is barely touched upon as being a problem. There's the fact that both Dedee and Lucia have some homophobic tendencies (which is extremely apparent from Dedee's narration). There's the fact that both Dedee and Lucia are dismissive of the idea that Matt might be bisexual, as if that's not a real thing. There's the fact that Dedee is just an absolutely terrible person in so many ways. And... eh, I'm already forgetting things. I'm sure there must have been more bad stuff. But... there were also things I liked at least a little bit about the movie. Which I'm also already forgetting. But there was a scene near the end in which Matt seemed more intelligent, or at least more self-aware, than he seemed most of the time (and perhaps even more self-aware than Bill, who for the most part was the only voice of reason in the movie). Deep sigh. I don't know what else to say. I mostly found the movie really hard to watch (and listen to) because of all the problematic aspects. At least I can finally stop wanting to watch it. So that's good. I can't imagine I'd ever want to watch it again. I don't feel like I can really say it had much in the way of redeeming qualities, but I guess... at least the movie itself wasn't homophobic. I have no idea how to feel about whatever the hell it thinks it's saying about love in general.