Cassandra Nico-laou is best known for her hilarious short Interviews With My Next Girlfriend, but this well-loved local lesbian filmmaker takes on an entirely different tone and genre with her first feature Show Me.
Show Me explores a darker side of human connection in the context of a kidnapping. Sarah (Michelle Nolden) is a yuppie lesbian stuck in traffic who gets approached by two young squeegee kids Jenna (Katharine Isabelle) and Jackson (Kett Turton) who then force Sarah at knifepoint to drive to an isolated cabin in the woods where they keep her captive.
Nicolaou has said that she had a hard time staying true to the thriller genre; it shows. Rather than being a detriment to the film, though, it strengthened it. Show Me is a subtle psychological thriller with less emphasis on the thriller and more on the psychological. In fine Canadian film tradition Nicolaou strays from the spectacle and focusses more on the drama created by how the characters act and react to one another in this imposed situation.
What evolves out of the confines of this intense circumstance are some excellent performances with the perfect amount of restraint, bringing to life some incredibly believable characters. At first it seem unlikely that Sarah, an L-Word-style lesbian, would be able to relate to, let alone connect with, two flippant street youth and them to her. But some interesting confessions and revelations are made, surprisingly tender moments shared. Loyalty then becomes shifty as the lines between right and wrong get uncomfortably blurred with some unexpectedly sexy results.
Show Me’s realistic depiction of action is refreshing. Despite what Hollywood constantly triesto pass off as plausible, the average person is not a MacGyver and cannot ingeniously manoeuvre their way out of captivity easily. Nicolaou’s depiction of Sarah’s inability to do things like hotwire a car help ground this film in a humble human element, one that is easy to relate to.
Show Me is slow paced and character driven. I was not on the edge of my seat, stomach knotted, nor covering my eyes, fearing violence. Instead, the uneasiness came from the various sexual tensions and complicated alternating alliances created between each corner of this triad. What results is a smartly woven story with finely nuanced realism. Show Me is a compelling journey the whole way through.