Bloomington (2010)Posted: August 19, 2012
In short terms, Bloomington (2010) is a romantic/drama movie. A former television actress goes to college and starts a romantic relationship with a professor. Typical taboo/scandalous love affair-story, no?
Oh, the professor is a woman.
The focus of the film is a lesbian relationship between Katherine, a psychology professor with an intimidating reputation, known for seducing female students, and Jackie, a young woman who starred in a popular television show in her early years but struggles with her popularity/fame outcast label.
But…if you remove the fact that both romantic partners are women, the story is suddenly…typical. Because, say you keep Jackie but change the professor into an alluring male character. Then it seems like the story loses its “shock factor,” so to speak. Instead it’s just another tale of an older male preying on the younger, innocent female. Switch the roles: the professor is a female and the student is male and now you’ve got something kinda-sorta like The Graduate (1967) (which I’m just assuming. I’ve yet the see The Graduate but I’m familiar with its premise. So I could be wrong with this analogy, but whatevs). The novelty of Bloomington (if “novelty” is the right term) is seeing the span of Jackie and Katherine’s lesbian relationship, from when they meet, to when they break up.
However, I must say their relationship is portrayed rather tastefully. Speaking from a straight male perspective, I feel like when one thinks of a lesbian relationship, the tendency is to immediately picture the sex-appeal of the scenario. But Bloomington depicts the intimate moments between Jackie and Katherine appropriately/non-sleazily, despite its NR rating (because when I see NR my mind jumps to scenes of extreme violence/strong language/gratuitous nudity – none of which were present in the film. Sorry fellas, no boob-age). Also when you think of professor-student relationships, the assumption might be that of a one-sided relationship, that the professor preys and exploits the students naivety to his/her own advantage when in this film, that’s hardly the case.
I can’t say for certain whether or not Bloomington is respectful towards the portrayal of a lesbian relationship as I haven’t viewed any other films with a focus on homosexuality. Then again, I’ve heard from a friend who took a gay/queer topics in theatre and film class that most works with a clear focus on the struggles of homosexuality usually have a depressing ending where someone tries to kill himself/herself. Bloomington seems more focused on the romance-story aspect of such a relationship. So, it’s entertaining, but I don’t know if it qualifies as a great example of portraying LGBT themes in film media.