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Published March 17, 2018

“Am I gay? Bisexual? Or just a straight girl in love with her best friend?”

Many people assume that when you come out as a gay person, it’s something you only have to do once. That once you’ve taken that step and done the hard part, the anxiety of feeling like you don’t quite belong or that you’re not accepted for who you are will just vanish. But unfortunately, that anxiety never really goes away, and whether it lies dormant or not, there’s a constant feeling that you have to try harder to assert or justify yourself where others don’t. Regardless of how ‘woke’ you think the world might be in 2018, there’s always going to be a genuine divide in the experiences of a lesbian and a straight girl in love with her best friend.

In Samantha Lee’s Maybe Tomorrow (Baka Bukas), the fairly by-the-numbers story of best friends who start to become something more is elevated by it’s preoccupation with this anxiety. A solid lead performance by Jasmine Curtis-Smith also helps towards forgetting the mostly unlikeable and forgettable roster of supporting characters. Curtis-Smith plays Alex, a young entrepreneur/creative who appears to be a pretty well rounded person, and the fact that she’s gay is just a very understated part of that. She’s clearly passionate about her work, and the moments where she’s fighting to have her voice heard in pitch meetings pinpoint the undercurrent of self-doubt running throughout. Alex knows who she is, she knows what she wants from the people in her life, but she also has to live with colleagues too afraid to not play it safe, and friends and partners who continue to hide themselves. It’s difficult to love life and be the best version of yourself if everyone around you refuses to join in, and her relationship with her best friend Jess (Louise de los Reyes) lives in this struggle.

After Jess discovers Alex is gay, she starts to realise she has feelings for her. Her transformation from a—as she’s described in the film—“basic bitch” straight girl, to bicurious siren unfortunately rings too hollow to take it seriously. As a love interest, Jess struggles to be engaging mostly because it’s hard to know where she’s coming from most of the time. When she first learns of Alex’s orientation, she’s shell-shocked and responds as though she’s never thought of such a thing. It’s an awfully quick turnaround (with seemingly no character progression) to see her in Alex’s arms, telling her she’s never been happier. Love can certainly take people by surprise, but if it was really ringing true, it shouldn’t have taken me by surprise quite that much.

The Melbourne premiere of Maybe Tomorrow is this Sunday 18 March as part of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival.

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