Mitch is a senior at Harvard with a serious girlfriend and a serious problem: the girlfriend is Cat, an English student headed to London after graduation; the problem is that Mitch hasn't told her parents yet that she's gay. She thinks about her family a lot: she takes photos of them, she makes home movies about them. She photographs herself dressed up to resemble her mother when her mother was her age. She's pals with her dad, close to her grandmother, and not so close to her mom. She'll be home at Thanksgiving and Christmas in up-scale Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and they are visiting her in Cambridge. She resolves to tell them. What will be their reaction?Written by
This documentary is an intense snapshot of the director's life as she nears graduation from Harvard. It seems that she wants to tell her parents she's gay, but she's having a hard time with the announcement. That seems to be an "excuse" for the film, or a "theme" that holds it together. But really, the movie is much more about being a person than being gay. What makes this movie so good is the amazingly honest way she portrays the family members around her, including her rocky relations with her mother. If she had been straight, or if she had some other secret she was trying to tell her parents, I think she could have made a movie that is every bit as good.
Evidently she's a student of Ross McElwee. If you like his movies (like 'Sherman's March'), you'll probably love this one. It has many of the charms of McElwee's style, and some advantages of its own.
This movie IS available on VHS from Amazon. It's included on a tape called "Girlfriends (1995)" along with three other lesbian-related short movies that aren't bad, but aren't nearly as good as "Playing the Part."
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