The Watermelon Woman (1997)

The Watermelon Woman




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Cheryl is a twenty-something black lesbian working as a clerk in a video store while struggling to make a documentary about Fae Richards, an obscure black actress from the 1930's. Cheryl is surprised to discover that Richards (known popularly as "the Watermelon Woman") had a white lesbian lover. At the same time, Cheryl falls in love with a very cute white customer at the video store.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Cheryl Dunye
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 30, 2000
Dancing Girl Productions


as Fae Richards/The Wat...

as Mrs. Dunye
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Critic Reviews for The Watermelon Woman

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The narrative, abot a black lesbian director, is elliptical and circular, borrowing its format from Jim McBride's seminal David Holtzman's Diary, at the end of which, the viewers realize they have been watching a fake documentary.

Full Review… | October 31, 2006

Audience Reviews for The Watermelon Woman

Even though "The Watermelon Woman" is quite unpolished, writer-director Cheryl Dunye still manages to create a realistic fictional history in it to explore themes of race and sexuality while paralleling that with a fictional present where she plays Cheryl who works at a video store with her pal Tamara(Valarie Walker) and as videographers. Tamara tries to set her up on a blind date at a karaoke bar but it goes disastrously wrong.(Surprisingly, even worse than the usual karaoke nightmare.) Unexpectedly, Cheryl finds herself attracted to Diana(Guinevere Turner) who is new to Philadelphia.

Cheryl also has dreams of becoming a filmmaker and has decided to focus on The Watermelon Woman(Lisa Marie Bronson), nee Fae Richards, who was featured in Hollywood films as a stereotypical black maid and more three dimensional roles in race films. What Dunye does well is give a tantalizing glimpse at a lost world while debating whether or not actors like Fae were positive or negative role models. Adding versimilitude to the proceedings are interviews with Dunye's mother and Camille Paglia, about whom the reality of is debatable. For example, what does a watermelon having the same colors as the Italian flag have to do with anything?

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

cheryl dunye obviously enjoyed herself as she told this story about a young filmmaker that delves in to the life of an obscure actress from the 1930s. that is what is missing from film these days. filmmakers need to play more and pontificate less. not be frivolous mind you--but play. there is a difference and that difference is what makes film fun to watch.

darryl clark

i liked the style of it. i'd be interested to see more of her films. worst lesbian sex scene music tho. typical.

Lesley Kartali

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