Connect with us

Movie Reviews

Blue Jean ★★★★★



Director: Georgia Oakley

Cast: Rosy McEwen, Kerrie Hayes, Lucy Halliday

Release: February 10, 2023 (UK)

The infuriating reluctance to outright ban conversion therapy, with the broken promises stacking up, vicious attacks squarely aimed at transgender men and women, propped up by an acid-tongued right-wing press majority. These immediate battles are not considered strangers to the older contingent of the queer community. They were navigating a Thatcherite era with Section 28 wreaking havoc on their rights, creating a sickening wealth of needless shame and hostility.

Imagine being a closeted school kid in the 1980s, scrambling to find inspiration through an openly queer role model. Imagine being a teacher in that period, too, who perhaps had to conceal the truth of their sexuality, with a flawed education system ready to silence their authentic voice. In this striking directorial debut from Georgia Oakley, Blue Jean is a stark warning shot to a modern queer Britain in not being complacent and a soul-stirring celebration of their resilience, which is all too often taken for granted.

Planting the pride flag in the North-East of England, the blonde bleaching of Jean’s (Rose McEwen) hair is an intended sign of a brighter future, gently starting to embrace her sexuality after the collapse of a marriage. In comparison to her nurturing lesbian tribe, however, there remains a tentativeness to be upfront in expressing firm opinions about calling out the injustices being inflicted across the country, causing friction with their headstrong girlfriend, Viv (Kerrie Hayes).

Blue Jean Movie Review

Such struggle is only exacerbated further in the conservative confines of the school Jean works in. The legislation in play barely registers with her nonplussed teachers, whilst a cluster of the boisterous pupils she teaches are fond of a slur. Specialising in physical education, Jean is about to undergo an intensive emotional education when the introverted new girl Lois (Lucy Halliday) arrives on the scene. Rising tensions in the classroom with the fiery Siobhan (Lydia Page) unrelenting in her goading. Yet it’s the shock value of a chance meeting in a bar which sees Jean’s two worlds collide.

For a first-time feature, the sheer skill that director Oakley displays throughout Blue Jean in presenting the subtleties of the micro-aggressions that accumulate over time for the LGBTQ+ community, alongside the gradual progression of living our authentic truth, is exemplary. Potential ‘padding’ sequences of indulging in the cheese platter that was Cilla Black on Blind Date and instead prompting deeper discussions of how the broad media we consume is a calculated distraction to underlying societal issues that are swept under the living room carpet. Performative hypocrisy of a heteronormative society in their allyship becomes ultra-defensive once you challenge the contradictions in their belief system, solidified by a heated exchange between Jean and her supposedly supportive sister.

A grainy, somewhat neutral visual palette of Tyneside befits a local community for all its surface-level warmth. She is removed from the school, and the primary colours of the tight-knit spaces which Jean inhabits with her lesbian friends emerge, imbued with a sense of hope and defiance.

She struggles for clarity in her moral compass, alongside the increasingly complex dilemmas Jean faces daily in maintaining integrity within her job. one to head down the melodramatic path such fare often takes. The astute character choices of Rose McEwen are what sets it apart. The internalised extremity of Jean’s plight is conveyed predominantly through McEwen’s stunning portrayal’s wide eyes and sheer physicality. Only once breaking outward in a searing sequence at a family get-together exemplifies the fine line between liberation and repression. A richly textured character study that may be set in a different decade, but consider this Blue Jean a perfect fit for our times.

Blue Jean on IMDB

Just For You