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Chasing Chasing Amy – BFI London Film Festival 2023 (Film Review)

3 min read

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.

Documentaries about films are incredibly common, they come in different forms, some about chaotic film shoots, films that failed to get finished, films that changed history, or even fandoms. But what ' film does is to start one way and slowly change, as he himself does, over the course of its run time.

From the outset, appears to be a love letter to 's 1997 rom-com about a comic book writer – Holden (Ben Affleck) – who falls in love with lesbian Alyssa (). The film promises Rodgers talking us through how as an outcast child obsessed with the work of Ben Affleck, bullied by classmates, he discovered an indie film that taught him perhaps there was a fluidity to sexuality. 

Rodgers, rather cannily, starts that way, with their Ted Talk about Smith's film and with talking heads explaining the importance of the film within the LGBTQ+ community of 1997. But slowly as more voices come into play, and Rodgers includes more about his own life, things change. Queer film critics and makers question if a film about a lesbian should be made by a cis-white guy, if having Jason Lee's bigot character be secretly closeted is blaming gay people for their own persecution, and Rodgers begins to question the film itself.

This could be heavy, and feel like someone turning on the film, but Rodgers puts in his own life; coming to terms with his gender identity, his ongoing relationship with his partner Riley, her experiences as a lesbian. Eventually the film takes a back foot to a very sweet love story about someone becoming who they are, inspired by a film that was entirely what it wanted to be and the woman he loves holding steadfast in her support.

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The fact that Kevin Smith appears regularly in it may make the film appear to be a puff piece, something he might use to promote a film's anniversary but Rodgers' innocent “oh my god I love your movie” changes as he learns not only more about himself but about the film. The spectre of Hollywood's biggest scandal begins to rear its head as Smith admits Harvey Weinstein was involved and that he was young and naïve enough to believe that Weinstein was a genuine guy.

Rodgers bravely juxtaposes Smith's admission that the situation of the film was more complicated with his own realisation that him loving a film that saved his life and let him feel seen doesn't mean that the film is beloved by everyone involved. A one-on-one interview with Joey Lauren Adams herself is devastating, not just in what she talks about – Weinstein essentially sabotaging her career because he didn't fancy her, but the atmosphere of the time. Adams talks of her own harassment, but pointedly says as fun and happy as Smith is about the film, that same year Weinstein raped Rose McGowan, the events are forever linked – but in how Rodgers comes to question if this film of his is worth finishing.

What is most moving isn't just seeing how one film can change the life of someone, and shape them, but how they can grow beyond its scope, and find catharsis beyond it. might be a problematic love story, and a relic of a white man's idea of queer, but Chasing Chasing Amy is a personal thank you note – not just to a film, but to a wife.

Chasing Chasing Amy will be screened throughout the London Film Festival 2023.