THE BLOG

Leslye Headland's Bachelorette

09/10/2012 03:14 pm ET | Updated Nov 10, 2012
  • Sheril Antonio Associate Arts Professor, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts

Leslye Headland's debut film Bachelorette (2012) is an intensely complex mix of totally inappropriate humor and very sad moments carefully nestled in a well drawn study of how past regrets became the noticeable roots of our characters' present habits. The four women at the center of this story are well-formed in the writer/director's heart and mind, which shows on the screen -- after all she has been living with them for at least the past five years. I always encourage my students to know more about their characters than the details that will end up in the film and in this case you can really feel it.

I had the pleasure of watching Bachelorette with about 200 of my students and then moderating the Q & A with Leslye. I was thoroughly impressed by the sincerity and depth of both the film and its writer/director. This female centered story (not a chick flick according to one student) began as a play in Los Angeles that eventually made it across the country to an off-Broadway production in New York.

Although I could not personally identify with any of these women (well except for the lady in the housekeeping department who was cranky but accommodating -- LOL), I was deeply moved by the story. The film creates a completely different emotional space than all the other films to which it is currently being compared. In many ways, it is about how people survive regrets and move on; how we all carry around our past in ways that are mostly visible to others; and when, how, and why we put that past down. There are rough women and tender men in this story that take us through this visceral pre-wedding gathering. The film is really about the complicated relationship we have with ourselves and our bodies and how that plays out in our relationship with those around us -- these are the things I identified with in the film when I wasn't laughing.

OK -- full disclosure -- I was oozing with pride. Leslye represents someone very special to me -- the embodiment of the kind of versatile, self-powered, and empowered artist we want all our students to be, particularly our female students. She is educated, self-educated, smart, funny and real, very real. She began her undergraduate training as a Drama student at Tisch, fell in love with directing theater, then became a playwright. She then went on to write for television and now has written a screenplay and directed her first feature. Impressive... The distribution of the film is also an interesting story. Bachelorette was made available on iTunes (where it would eventually occupy the #1 spot) before its September 7th weekend's theatrical release.

Each of us will walk away from this film with something completely different but what I hope most of us will agree on is its raw authenticity.