Growing up gay in 1980s Oklahoma could not have been easy, but writer-director Abe Sylvia and the cast of his debut feature Dirty Girl make it look like a helluva lot of fun. Based loosely on Sylvia’s own experiences, Dirty Girl takes on a similar tone to other campy, irreverent teen flicks, such as Saved! and Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Shy, chubby, and gay Clarke Walters (Jeremy Dozier) finds an unlikely friend in highschool “dirty girl” Danielle Edmondston (played by the forever-gum-chewing and hair-twirling Juno Temple), when the two are forced to partner up in class. For the social outcasts, being a teen in rural Oklahoma is beyond shitty. Clarke spends most of his free time alone in his room, dreaming about what his first sexual encounter will be like, singing along to Melissa Manchester tunes, and hiding his “gayness” from his homophobic dad (played by country singer Dwight Yoakam). Meanwhile, Danielle is distraught over her mom’s (Mila Jovovich) decision to marry strict-as-they-come Mormon Ray (William H. Macy).
Armed with Clarke’s dad’s car and credit card and a Walkman full of ‘80s pop music, Danielle and Clarke set off on a road trip to find Danielle’s birth father in California. Along the way, the teens pick up a sexy male hitchhiker and win over the crowd during a stripping contest at a gay bar, but it’s the journey towards self-acceptance and life-long friendship that Danielle and Clarke remember the most.
Vancouver Queer Film Festival presents Dirty Girl on Sunday (August 26) at 7 p.m.
Watch the trailer for Dirty Girl.