Made in 1998, All Over Me is said to be a cult lesbian classic.
Considering it was the first lesbian film I was going to watch, I
expected a lot. Maybe a little too much.
The film is set in gritty downtown New York, and follows the life
of Claude, a stereotypical, slightly butch teenager who plays the
guitar, and her best friend Ellen. The more feminine but messed-up
type. You know, this usual theme, always got to have a butch and a
femme, one always has to be a bit crazy and they both have to like
muddy rock music that makes my head hurt. My first impressions
weren't exactly positive.
So in this confusing mix, Claude fancies Ellen and then she meets
Luke, a gay man with stupid hair. Ok, considering I was only four
when this was made I may be being a bit harsh but seriously? Who in
their right mind would have hair like that? Just wait until I get
onto 'Lezzy Lucy' later on. Luke is obviously a comfort to Claude,
until he's murdered by Ellen's homophobic and downright dick of a
boyfriend. At this point, I was tempted to switch off. Next they'll
be doing drugs and Ellen and Claude will partake in one of those
awkward kissing scenes to throw in a bit more drama.
I was right; if you're a confused teenager you're obviously a
paranoid cocaine addict. Nice.
So anyway, Claude, trying to forget about crazy Ellen and her
boyfriend takes herself off to a lesbian club. Again, more muddy
rock music and angsty dykes. There she meets Lucy, a pink-haired
lesbian with a fondness for khaki and stripy socks. Great. Another
stereotype fulfilled there.
Claude and Lucy do a few kissing scenes, Ellen goes more crazy and
then along came the credits. I can't say I was thrilled.
However, it is a coming out story and something that I can't
pretend I didn't to relate to. If you take away the stereotypes,
the murder and the drugs, it did strike a chord with how I remember
the realisation that I was gay. The loneliness, the isolation and
the excitement were all portrayed in All Over Me but also the
general confusion that everyone feels when they're growing up and
trying to cope in a world surrounded by failure, hate and
A lot has changed since 1998 but equally, in the head of a lesbian
teenager, a lot hasn't. The fear of kissing in public, the wanting
to fit in and that dreaded question: "Do you have a boyfriend?"
I can't escape this idea however, that young lesbians are
surrounded by alcohol, drugs and nasty homophobic men. I'm
I wouldn't say All Over Me is outdated, many of its themes and the
ideas surrounding sexuality are still resonant today, and yet it
doesn't help itself with its portrayal of exactly what being young
and at odds with oneself is like. You never know though, it might
take another few years and then will be accepted into the realms of
the classic lesbian 'must-see' movie.
How classic is All Over Me? 1/5
How relevant is it now? 2/5
All Over Me is available at
DIVA Direct, priced £7.99