If you're going to immerse yourself in a world that Amanda Kramer has created, you will need to accept everything that is happening on screen if you're going to survive until the end. Kramer has the ability to suck you in to her strange universe, whether you choose to stay and indulge in the fantasies in front of you is up to you. It may not be a fast-paced thriller but the intermittent musical dance numbers and eccentric ‘guests' that appear along the way do break up the time. The surrealist fantasy of this visual queer manifesto won't be for everyone, especially if you don't enjoy repetition of questions and discussions, but it is fascinating to witness. Kramer's work fits easily into Fantasia's programme, along with her other film also being screened at the festival this year, Give Me Pity.
In 1950s Manhattan, an ultra-bohemian newlywed couple witness a murder by a leather clad gang calling themselves, the Young Gents. The experience makes them question their sexual identities, asking what they mean to each other and what their identities say about themselves. While these conflicts disrupt their once picture-perfect lives, the gang continues to terrorize the neighbourhood with violence and ‘gender non confirming ways'.
From the very start with the over choreographed opening movements of the gang stalking the streets, you already know you're going to be watching something other worldly. The hyper surreal setting, theatrical costumes and staged discussions feel less like a film but instead a play with many moving parts. The monologue like dialogue often delivered by Andrea Riseborough, who once again, disappears into her role, is fascinating and irritating at times, but that is who she is. A woman questioning herself, her relationship and her obvious frustration with her sexual desires that are not being met by her husband. Harry Melling as Arthur is not as compelling to watch as Riseborough but continues to prove he can take on any genre and mould into the character. His continuing defence in what he believes a man should be is thoughtful, his curiosity and exploration of his sexuality is what keeps us intrigued throughout. The couple's ongoing discussions and arguments are the central point to the film but the moments outside of this are equally filled with theatrical intrigue.
Demi Moore's mysterious neighbour upstairs, offering insight into a woman's role to Suze is a highlight, its only one scene but it's fantastically over the top. Cole Escola also provides a stand out moment when in drag, crooning into the telephone box over a love affair. Even though these scenes and songs are slight distractions, they are still enjoyable to observe.
Kramer has created a memorable exploration into sexual identity using theatrics, music and an excellent use of lighting to give us this visual feast. It might not hit every beat it tries to make but it's unlikely you'll forget what you see in this world of Please Baby Please.
Please Baby Please screened at this year's Fantasia Film Festival