Fine Arts and Fest

Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?

(www.outfest.org)

A Review

Chad W. Lutz
It’s not everyday that a film centers on a bumbling, 40-year old screenwriter who lives in a garage and regularly dresses in a vagina costume. Actually, I don’t think any film has centered on persons of any age wearing vagina costumes, especially those adorned with sequin crowns. Luckily for us, there’s a community as bold and as brash as the LGBT community, and films like “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?” boldly cannonball into waters Hollywood films barely dip their toes into.

The film is a brilliant meta-film filled with memorable one-liners, striking commentary on the importance of promoting positive, serious, and genuine LGBT art, and a relatable storyline of emotional evolution. “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?” examines themes of honesty, truth, friendship, and family, which Anna battles both inside and outside of her vagina (costume). The soundtrack kills, the acting hooks, and the messages linger on well after the credits roll. “Vagina Wolf” isn’t just another LGBT film; it’s a film everyone should see.

We find Anna at celebrating at her 40th birthday party wearing her birthday suit, which is a giant, cotton vagina suit she wears throughout the film. Anna is desperately trying to find the time, energy, and money to make the film that’s going to pull her out of the muck of screenwriter obscurity and launch her career. The only trouble is Anna is lonely, and mostly preoccupied with the idea of being a failure at Love. One day, Anna meets “the girl of her dreams” at a screening of some of her old short films. Inspired by her new love, Anna commits to putting on a full-length production of a movie she makes up on the fly to impress the idol of her affection. What she learns along the way is that she’s never grown out of her childhood fears enough to have a serious, mature relationship, not only with Katia, the intellectual grad student who steals her heart, but, more importantly herself.

At one point in the movie, Katia is talking to Julia, the film’s journey cinematographer and resident beatnik. To the camera, Katia pretty bluntly states, “I like playing the villain because the villain is often the most honest person in any story.” What Anna lacks throughout the story, and her life really, is a villain; that voice that says, “No, don’t stay out late,” or “Yes, this might suck, and you might really want to do this instead, but you’ve got to do this anyway.” We find out Anna has repeatedly turned down opportunities to further her career, and meanwhile has done just about everything in her power to run from those who actually care for and love her. The result is a villain by default, instead of an empowered individual realizing her potential through both her talents and her capacities for Love.

The aforementioned and hopefully one day infamous vagina costume she wears serves as a metaphor for inability to get in touch with her true identity. In one scene, Anna and Julia are at the lesbian make-out spot, as Julia informs our heroine, overlooking the city on a romantic evening stroll. Julia tries to kiss Anna, but Anna deflects her advances. Julia is a bit deterred, but she understands. Inside of her vagina (costume), Anna embodies sex and openness, but what’s ironic is that the true Anna, we learn, is nothing of the sort, and habitually turns people, and opportunities for Love, away, even though she desperately wants to be loved, as in the case of the rejection at make-out point.

Aside from the strong messages promoted throughout the film, what “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?” really does well is pull the audience in through laughter. From beginning to end, “Vagina Wolf” is a riot. You’ll be holding your sides and laughing well into the next scene at Anna’s cerebrally bold and self-deprecating personality as well as her best friend, Penolope’s, pretentiousness and the uber-artsy, surreal Katia. Supporting characters Chloe and Anna’s mother offer their own, unique brands of humor that continue the laugh roll throughout the film and balance the personality types of the main characters and make “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?” one of the best, lesbian, straight, or otherwise, I’ve seen in a long, long time.