Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 6/22/07 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions.
Directed by Alex Sichel and written by Sylvia Sichel, All Over Me tells the story of two young women living in the Hell's Kitchen section of New York City growing up as their own friendship starts to diverge following the death of a neighbor. One of the girls begins to discover her own sexuality as she falls for a musician while her best friend is becoming involved in a self-destructive relationship with a man. Starring Alison Folland, Tara Subkoff, Cole Hauser, Shawn Hatosy, Wilson Cruz, Leisha Hailey, Ann Dowd, Pat Briggs, and Vincent Pastore. All Over Me is a charming yet heartbreaking drama from the Sichel sisters.
Two young women in Claude (Allison Folland) and Ellen (Tara Subkoff) are walking around a park in the middle of Hell's Kitchen discussing about forming their own band. They meet a new new neighbor named Luke (Pat Briggs)as Claude befriends him while Ellen is more interested in her new boyfriend Mark (Cole Hauser). At the pizza place where Claude works at with Jesse (Wilson Cruz), Ellen brings Mark to the pizza place where Claude feels concerned about the relationship. At one night at the pizza place, Luke arrives where he chats with Claude and Jesse as Claude is approached by Mark's friend Gus (Shawn Hatosy) about a date. Claude reluctantly accepts as the night becomes intense following a scuffle between Luke and Mark. The next day when Claude returns home from school, her mother (Ann Dowd) tells her some terrifying news.
After the news where Ellen reveals to Claude more information about what happened, Claude becomes more concerned about Ellen's time with Mark as she deals with her own sexuality. Taking an advice from Luke, Claude goes to a lesbian rock club where she falls for a punk-haired guitarist named Lucy (Leisha Hailey) where the two befriend each other. Lucy takes Claude to her apartment where they listen to some Patti Smith as Claude comes home learning that Ellen brought Mark to her apartment. Realizing that Ellen's relationship with Mark is creating trouble, Claude is forced to make some decision to protect Ellen from herself and reveal something that would change everything.
Coming home, Claude learns that Ellen had brought Mark to her apartment as she sees Ellen slowly self-destructing. After being forced by Ellen to go eat with Mark and his friends, Claude was forced to see things go wrong as she finds comfort in her Lucy and Jesse. After a confrontation with Mark, Claude is forced to see what she has to do to protect Ellen from herself as she makes a life-changing decision.
Given that the film is set amidst the riot grrl movement that included indie-rock icon Mary Timony of Helium in a band with Leisha Hailey. The film is really about the disintegrating relationship of two young women as they both go come of age in the middle of Hell's Kitchen. The script by Sylvia Sichel is well-structured though not entirely perfect due to some of the subplot of Ellen's descent. The story about Claude's self-discovery of her own sexuality and how she viewed her own relationship to Ellen. Alex Sichel's direction is wonderful and very realistic by shooting on location and not succumbing to any kind of melodrama or sentimentality. Especially for the fact that film is viewed a love story between two friends whose relationship disintegrates due to one's self-destructive behavior and how it affects her best friend who starts to discover how her sexuality.
Cinematographer Joe DeSalvo creates some amazing images with his camera from the wonderfully, colored exterior shots on the film's daytime sequences to the stark, shadowy images of the nighttime scenes. Production designer Amy Beth Silver and art director Kristen Vallow create some wonderful sets of the apartment from the poster of Patti Smith in Claude's room to the loads of CDs that Lucy has. Costume designers Kevin Donaldson and Victoria Farrell also create a unique look to the film's look by actually using real-life clothes like the baggy shorts that Claude wear to the short-shorts that Ellen wears. Editor Sabine Hoffman does some excellent work on the film's editing with a running time of 90 minutes where it's nicely paced and creates tension of the outcome. Sound editor Missy Cohen also works on the film's tension by not adding any kind of sound during some of the film's highly emotional scenes as well as the atmosphere that is Hell's Kitchen.
The film's score by Miki Navazio and Leisha Hailey is haunting to convey the sense of loss and tension while the soundtrack reflects the indie rock scene of the mid-90s. The soundtrack features cuts by Babes in Toyland, Ozark Mountain Devils, Cornershop, the Jesus & Mary Chain, the Geraldine Fibbers, Ani DiFranco, 12 Rounds, Remy Zero, the Amps, Hailey's old band the Murmurs, Helium, and a haunting track from Patti Smith. Hailey and Helium's Mary Timony both appear playing in a band that definitely represents the 90s riot grrl scene as it sounds raw and energetic to the indie rock scene.
The film features some notable small performances from Gene Canfield as Anne's boyfriend Stewart, David Lee Russek as Mark's friend Dave, John Ottavino and A. Russell Andrews as two cops, and indie-rock icon Mary Timony in a cameo role. Other small performances from Shawn Hatosy and The Sopranos' Vincent Pastore are excellent and memorable while Pat Briggs of the 90s shock-rock band Psychotica gives a wonderfully excellent performance as the sensitive, charming Luke. Ann Dowd is good as Claude's despondent mother who is trying to deal with her life as a single mom. Wilson Cruz of My So-Called Life is wonderful as Jesse who is amazed that Luke asked if he's gay while dealing with his homosexuality in the wake of Luke's murder. Cole Hauser is also great in an early film role as Mark, a guy who is definitely dangerous as he becomes possessive towards Ellen.
Leisha Hailey of the 90s band the Murmurs and more famously for her work in the show The L Word is lovely as Lucy. Hailey just lights up any scene she's in with her pink-hair and girlish personality as she represents the kind of love interest that Claude could definitely go for and is more understanding. Tara Subkoff is good in her role as Ellen though the character lacks development. Subkoff definitely sells her character's despair and troubles though at times, she comes off as a sick puppy. It's really more of the flaw of the script rather than Subkoff, who is more famous as a fashion designer for the Imitation of Christ line. The film's great performance goes to Allison Folland, who is known to audiences for her work in Gus Van Sant's To Die For and Kimberly Pierce's Boys Don't Cry. Folland's performance is complex and wonderfully written as her character grows into the discovery of her own sexuality. Even as she tries to figure out as who she is as Folland truly gives an amazing performance.
The film was released at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews among the gay & lesbian film community as well as the independent film scene. Receiving the prestigious Teddy Bear Award from Berlin Film Festival as well as several nominations including a Best Actress nod to Folland from the Independent Spirit Awards. While the film remains a cult hit and a centerpiece of 90s Gay/Lesbian cinema. Not much has been heard from the Sischel Sisters except a segment of If These Walls Could Talk 2 in 2000. While it's not a perfect film, All Over Me is still a charming, heartbreaking drama from the Sichel sisters as well as a nice film of the gay/lesbian lifestyle.
(C) thevoid99 2012