Memory and mangos: the comedy Goldfish Memory is a charming pansexual romp, while Mango Kiss goes where few lesbian films dare

Stephen Rebello

With handsome cinematography and an intelligent script, this debut feature by Sascha Rice follows a newly arrived lesbian couple through their bumpy initiation into the intricate sexual mores of queer San Francisco in the ’90s. Lou (Michelle Wolff), a goodhearted boy-girl, is in love with Sassafras (Daniele Ferraro), who thinks they’re just friends. To Lou’s delight, Sass agrees to try the girlfriend thing, but this is San Francisco, after all; she also wants some big-city sexual adventures. So their burgeoning romance is complicated by new-queer frills like nonmonogamy, S/M, and role-playing.

The film doesn’t always succeed in defining its terms. The attractive actors sometimes seem tiresome when we’re actually meant to tire of the roles they’re playing. Also, in attempting to keep the tone light, the filmmakers have overscrubbed the action: For a picture about kinky sex, Mango Kiss could use more of it.

Nevertheless, Rice’s film is definitely worth a look. It’s a benevolent take on a lesbian story few filmmakers have tried to tackle. –Anne Stockwell

Who knew Dublin teemed with so many great-looking 20-something bisexuals who, even if incredibly self-obsessed, seem relatively unconflicted about playing both sides of the fence? At least that’s the lasting impression left by Goldfish Memory, writer-director Liz Gill’s cheery, brisk, and lively romantic comedy in which a group of amiable interconnected couples hook up, part, and recombine in ways that suggest La Ronde lite.

Set in and around Dublin (lustrously shot on digital video by Ken Byrne), the sexual roundelay kicks off when literature lecturer–lech Tom (Sean Campion) gets caught cheating on his current student girlfriend, Clara (Fiona O’Shaughnessy). Clara decides to try women and lucks into Angie (Flora Montgomery), a newscaster eager to settle down and make babies, while Clara prefers to go clubbing and, on the side, sleep with Conzo (Demian McAdam). Meanwhile, Angie’s gay best friend, Red (Keith McErlean), is bedding sexually ambivalent bartender David (Peter Gaynor), who is mired in relationship troubles with live-in girlfriend Rosie (Lise Hearns), who on the rebound gets engaged to Larry (Stuart Graham), who after meeting her family suddenly gets cold feet and then …

Well, you get the gist if you’ve seen virtually any of Woody Allen’s ’80s ensemble comedies, let alone Love Actually. Like those earlier movies, Goldfish, which was a favorite at such venues as Outfest, is peppered with philosophical observations about the ridiculousness of love, coupled with the notion that, despite the drama, the betrayals, the futility, we all chase that old elusive butterfly anyway.

In time-honored romantic comedy tradition, characters like gay bike messenger Red live on photogenic houseboats, and potentially thorny plot twists, such as Angie’s discovery that she’s pregnant by Red–just as she and her new lover, horticulturist Kate (Justine Mitchell), are searching Web sites for a suitable sperm donor–are resolved briskly. And although the relationship between Red and David doesn’t get anywhere near the screen time lavished on less interesting plot strands, such flaws don’t matter much.

Goldfish Memory, awash in charming performances by appealing actors (Campion and Montgomery particularly stand out) and accompanied by a maverick soundtrack mingling original songs and score with Irish indie darlings, goes down about as easily and notably as a pint of Guinness at the local pub.

Mango Kiss

* Written by Sarah Brown and Sascha Rice * Directed by Rice

* Starring Daniele Ferraro, Michelle Wolff, and Sally Kirkland

* Wolfe Video * $24.95

Goldfish Memory

* Written and directed by Liz Gill

* Starring Sean Campion, Flora Montgomery, and Keith McErlean

* Wolfe Video * $29.95

COPYRIGHT 2005 Liberation Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

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