Northern England, 1988. Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government is introducing the now-notorious Section 28. Closeted gym teacher Jean has been balancing her personal and working life accordingly until a new girl at school risks the collision of Jean’s worlds.
It’s 1988, and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government is introducing the now-notorious Section 28. By day, closeted Jean works as a secondary school gym teacher, and by night, she plays pool at the local lesbian bar with her partner and friends. Though seemingly skilled at navigating these boundaries, there is a stifling discomfort to constantly maintaining her spheres: Jean assumes careful neutrality in the face of homophobic jokes from her students, swerves casually cruel remarks from her married sister, and still seems unsettled when sleeping over at her partner’s communal living space. As the pressures from the stigmatising law banning the promotion of homosexuality and the arrival of a new pupil reach a breaking point, Jean must confront her timid political stance to decide who she is and who she can let herself be.
Shot on 16mm, featuring an alluring palette of deep and vivid blues, British writer-director Georgia Oakley’s feature debut is no ‘80s throwback. Instead, it feels as if it could be a lost kitchen sink drama from the era. With all the restraint and assured aesthetics of queer classics like that of Donna Deitch and Chantal Akerman, and an authentically heartfelt central performance from Rosy McEwen, Blue Jean is an intimate, unglamourised character study set in a period of formalised stigmatisation that remains all too relevant.
There are no new dates planned (yet) for Blue Jean.