Pick a film about young love, they said. It will be a refreshing romp with no cringey stereotypes about Mexican-Americans, they said (looking at you, Peppermint). This is how we ended up with a film with significantly fewer racist vibes, but with way more indecision, teen angst, and heavy-handed gender norms. Don’t get me wrong–there are some sweet moments in this week’s film, but I also would’ve welcomed just a touch of Jennifer Garner’s take-no-prisoners decisiveness for our leads here.
Yes or No
A college student who is initially horrible to her tomboyish roommate is conflicted when she begins to develop romantic feelings for her.
Pie is a college student who wears a lot of cute skirts, is close with her mom, and cares for a pet fish (named “Really” for some inexplicable reason). Though she has a fun group of friends she rolls with, Pie can’t keep a roommate–she’s constantly annoyed by lights, sounds, and the lifestyles of her roomies.
When Pie meets her new roommate Kim, their relationship seems doomed to go from bad to worse. Kim is a tomboy, and is very masculine in dress and appearance. A true Millennial, Kim doesn’t like to label herself and has varied interests: she cooks, plays ukulele, and grows plants in the dorm.
Though Kim is a laid-back and considerate roommate, Pie is uncomfortable with her appearance and non-traditional gender norms in general. Pie is super rude, making obnoxious comments about Kim looking like a boy and even drawing a dividing line in their shared room to keep their spaces separate. But is Pie’s strong reaction to Kim’s style really about an extremely repressed attraction to her roomie? Spoiler: YES.
In return, Kim is basically the sweetest human being to live and too pure for this world. Kim constantly brings Pie desserts from her aunt’s restaurant, shares the food she makes in the dorm, and even tidies up Pie’s side of the room. When Kim sees Pie’s friend Jane crying in class after being dumped, she offers her a handkerchief. This causes an aggravating love triangle that continues throughout the film, but is still a nice gesture.
Kim and Pie’s relationship finally reaches a turning point when Pie’s side of the dorm floods in a storm. To make matters worse, the power goes out–and Kim is incredibly afraid of the dark. While Kim bunks down on the floor and lets Pie sleep in her bed, Pie lights so many candles that it’s a fire hazard and distracts Kim from the dark.
Just as Pie and Kim are getting close, Pie’s boyfriend Van shows up out of the blue. Or, rather, a boy Pie insists isn’t her boyfriend but effectively is. Pie repeatedly dodges plans to go out with Van in favor of Kim, but before you feel too bad for him…he later manages to lose all sympathy when he says some nasty things to Kim about the natural order.
Meanwhile, Jane is increasingly attracted to Kim–a feeling which is very much unreciprocated. It’s so awkward to watch, and there are times when I wanted to scream at Kim to just tell the poor girl she’s just not into her. At all.
After an incredibly uncomfortable double date with Pie/Van and Kim/Jane, our two leading ladies get into a major fight. You’d better believe there’s a really sweet make-up scene and FINALLY some action.
Though Pie is ready to call Kim her girlfriend in secret, she’s not ready to make their relationship public. When Pie’s mother comes to visit, she’s keen to hide her romantic feelings for Kim and doesn’t respond at all when her mother goes off about women who dress like men. Hurt, Kim abruptly leaves, returning to her family’s farm. Will Pie embrace her love for Kim or is it too late for this romance to blossom?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
OH MY GAWD, the angst. The ANGST in this film. It gets so tiresome watching Pie act like an asshole, be conflicted about her feelings, hurt Kim, and then make up with her. I tried so hard to be sympathetic to Pie as she was experiencing feelings for the first time that her horrible mother told her were unnatural. And I acknowledge that I am a shallow, food-motivated human, but Kim did nothing but give her cake–doesn’t that deserve at least a basic level of courtesy?
Also, poor Jane! It hurts to see her throw herself at Kim all the damn time and, while obviously Kim doesn’t owe her affection, it would have saved a lot of pain if she’d just been upfront that she isn’t attracted to Jane. There’s even a joke(?) about Jane’s suicide in this film, which is in extremely poor taste IMHO.
However, Kim as a character is everything (minus the whole Jane situation). She’s so sweet and has not a malicious bone in her body even though people are pretty shitty to her throughout. While she admits she’s attracted to Pie eventually, she doesn’t expect her to reciprocate. She continues to do nice things for Pie because they’re friends and she’s, IDK, a nice human being. Taking notes, bros of the world?
And I will admit the chemistry between our two leads is so good, and the sexual tension is intense. This film seems to take a lot of cues from a K drama, drawing out the romance in those subtle touches and significant stares. Effective this may be, but at a certain point I just wanted our leads to hook up already.