Thom Fitzpatrick is no stranger to the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. In fact his films have opened it year after year. The 26th gala was no exception with his charming film Cloudburst’s English premiere.
Labelled by the director as the first ‘geriatric lesbian road movie’ it certainly was distinctive and had all the quirks and eccentricities you’d expect from this moniker. Olympia Dukakis played the foul mouthed dyke Stella alongside Brenda Fricker as her partially-sighted beau Dot. Newcomer Ryan Doucette co-starred as the affable Prentice, the hitchhiker-cum-unlikely-son-figure who catches a ride with the two ladies and winds up on their adventure.
After Dot’s granddaughter tricks her into signing away power of attorney, she is admitted to a retirement home. That’s when Stella realises that by getting married in Canada, the couple can create a legal bond which cannot be bypassed. So she springs the ailing Dot out and they hit the winding road.
The characters are developed enough so that you really care about their wellbeing. Dot’s Irish brogue and humour is warm, at times crass but always charming. Outsider Prentice is posited comfortably with his elderly companions and there’s a strong sense in Cloudburst that bonds can grow across age gaps and sexualities. Stella’s a wordsmith with expletives and Dukakis’ gusto and glee in playing her really steals the show.
As Romcoms come, this is one with attitude! The sideline issue is of course same-sex marriage and the couple bumble and curse through the problem of cold feet despite having been together for 31 years.
Thom Fitzgerald successfully keeps things light-hearted yet remains effective in presenting an overlooked section in the LGBT community; the elderly. Cloudburst proves there’s life in the old dog yet.
Watch this space for my exclusive interview with Ryan Doucette as well as the audio Q&A at the premiere.