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Chasing Chasing Amy

Movie Review: ‘Chasing Chasing Amy’

Chasing Amy

In the late 1990s indie filmmaker Kevin Smith released Chasing Amy. A controversial film back then, its legacy has become even more complicated with the passing of the years and society finally starting to grow up (well sort of) when it comes to issues of sexuality. Director Sav Rodgers takes us on a deep dive into the movie’s history and content with his new documentary Chasing Chasing Amy.

Nominally this is a movie about a movie: a movie that featured a lesbian/gender-fluid character in a lead role when that was a rarity on the big screen. Staring Ben Affleck and Joey Lawrence Adams, Chasing Amy was about the two lead characters’ – a straight man and the aforementioned gender-fluid woman – relationship. While there were things about the movie that will make an audience today wince, it was still one of the first mainstream movies to even attempt to broach the subject of bi-sexuality and gender fluidity without being exploitive.

For Rodgers it was a life-saving experience. Growing up queer in Kansas he felt alone and lost. Discovering this movie in his parents’ video collection was like finding a lifeline to a world that recognized his right to exist. It had such a major influence on him that he created a Ted Talk on how much it impacted him. When the Ted Talk went viral – and attracted the attention of Smith and cast members of the movie – he felt like he had tapped into something and decided to explore the impact of Chasing Amy on the queer community.

However, something happened on the way to finishing a movie. Sav was born a woman – a queer woman. When he started the process of examining Chasing Amy on film he also began examining himself. As the documentary starts we find him interviewing various members of the queer community about Smith and his movie and hearing their opinions on whether the representation was positive or negative.

But as Chasing Chasing Amy progresses it becomes more and more about Rodgers himself and the journey he’s on chasing who he really is. During one of the interviews he’s conducting with Kevin Smith, he stops, and comes out to Smith about who he really is. Over the course of the rest of the movie we see him gradually transition from a woman to a man with a moustache and deeper voice. 

What’s brilliant about Chasing Chasing Amy is how well it works on multiple levels. First, as an analysis of the original movie it’s quite wonderful. Some of the people interviewed raise valid criticisms of the lesbian representation in Chasing Amy, while others talk about the accuracy of its depiction of a gender-fluid woman. 

Both Smith and Adams appear in the documentary and are wonderfully open, accepting and welcoming of Rodgers. Adams in particular has some smart and thought-provoking things to say about Amy and what it meant to her in the context of her relationship to Smith – they had been partners – and the times. Smith is Smith, but you also see behind the mask he dons for the public. He doesn’t bat an eye when Rodgers comes out as trans, and his compassion and support for the younger filmmaker never wavers through out.

Chasing Chasing Amy was always going to be a highly personal story given its origins. Sav Rodgers has taken us deep into both the movie and his life. While Kevin Smith gave him access to his memories about his movie, Rogers gives viewers completely unfettered access to his life and personal story. 

Chasing Chasing Amy is a remarkable movie. Beautiful, intelligent, and proud, it’s the perfect movie to watch during Pride Month. With all the pushback against the LGBQTIA+ community these days, this small and daring movie needs to be given a huge platform. See it and feel better about the world.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to Qantara.de and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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