LA Film Festival Review: ‘Becks’ Provides a Fresh, Lesbian Romance

The genre of LGBTQ+ films seems predominantly concerned with gay men stories. This makes a film like “Becks” so refreshing. A lesbian romantic drama, the film wears its identity on its sleeve without making it the sole focus of the feature. Instead, the film acts as a lovely and complicated portrait of arrested development.

Becks (Lena Hall) is a rocker infatuated with her fellow musician girlfriend Lucy (Hayley Kiyoko), who gets the opportunity to travel to LA to pursue her music ambitions. Becks travels out to meet her only to walk in on her sleeping with another woman. Heartbroken and financially broke, Becks moves back to her St, Louis suburban home with her former nun mother Ann (Christina Lahti). While home, Becks offers music lessons to locals. This includes Elyse (Mena Suvari), wife to the high school classmate who outed her during prom. The two develop a friendship that starts to skirt the line with flirting a little too closely.

Lena Hall is a wonderfully acerbic talent as Becks. She manages to effortlessly portray “cool” while still letting her insecurities and wounds show. While Hall acts as the new discovery of the piece, there are many other fantastic re-discoveries. Mena Suvari seemed poised for superstardom after her pivotal role in the Oscar winning film “American Beauty.” While that fame never quite materialized, Suvari reminds us how wonderfully charming she is in this film. One can only hope her, Alicia Silverstone and Mira Sorvino team up for a project as actresses from the 90s who deserved better. Likewise, Christine Lahti is absolutely dynamic inhabiting her role. Her religious commitment and familial love may seem like conflicting motivations, but Lahti relishes playing this complicated woman. Performances are fantastic all around, which makes over the top elements like Dan Fogler’s former flame seem unnecessary and out of place.

Co directors Daniel Powell and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh do a fantastic job of keeping the film brisk and fun. While the film takes a bit to find its feet, the directors craft a nice, easy going movie once the central dynamic is found. The pair also co wrote the film, along with Rebecca Drysdale. The sparkling script manages to create an myriad of wonderfully specific moments.  Segments involving straight friends setting up any new person with their “one lesbian friend” offer a fun insight into an environment where LGBTQ+ lifestyle is accepted, but as a novelty within certain circles.

The most complicated and interesting is Becks’ relationship with her former nun mother Ann. It’s not a relationship of condemnation and hate. In fact, Ann sees how Becks sometimes uses her sexuality as an excuse for bad behavior. Knowing this, Ann calls Becks out on these hypocrisies when needed. Additionally, the burgeoning bond between Becks and Elyse isn’t all what it seems. People can explore sexual experiences and partners new to them without committing to a specific label. This line becomes muddled, as clear definitions are made to be muddied.

While the small town scenes are lovely, the film does stumble on other familiar tropes. The film begins with a cheating girlfriend storyline that seems ripped from nearly every film of the rom-com genre. Most singing sequences from here on out clumsily depict Becks reminiscing on her adulterous lover. This relationship seems so flat and one dimensional, there’s little emotional investment in the hold it seems to have on Becks.

All in all, there is a lot to appreciate about “Becks.” The film wears its indie roots with a sort of nonchalant confidence. It’s less concerned with conflict and plot, but manages to tell a compelling story. The film won’t draw lines of people on a wide theatrical release. However, it makes a really well done small movie that hopefully finds a passionate audience.

“Becks” premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. For more Los Angeles Film Festival coverage, visit the Festivals section.

Grade: (★★★1/2)

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