The Watermelon Woman (1997)
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Critic Reviews for The Watermelon Woman
Funny and smart, full of biting humor and astute observations about identity and history, Cheryl Dunye's audacious, joyous debut feature captures the process of falling hopelessly in love with the movies.
[A] sweetly sardonic, pretension-busting look at an African-American lesbian filmmaker negotiating our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-sexual, multi-multi world.
It's a film of such multitudinous interests and storytelling pursuits that its unfolding replicates the ecstasy of newfound romance.
...a unique film and a real time capsule of the 1990s when movie geeks hung out at video stores.
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.
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?
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