- Movie Rating -

Chasing Chasing Amy (2023)

| August 26, 2023

This review was part of my coverage of the 25th Annual Sidewalk Film Festival

When Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy came out in 1996, I remember priding myself on loving it as a movie and for my own self-important progressiveness.  A proudly converted homophobic, I embraced the film’s openness about gays and lesbians even though I came to understand later just how hetero-scopic the film really is.  It’s about a man named Holden (Ben Affleck) who falls in love with a comic book artist named Alyssea (Joey Lauren-Adams) who is an out lesbian.  As the years have gone on and the understanding of queer culture has opened and become more defined, I realize now what a narrow place my appreciation came from.

I was young, what did I know?

Chasing Amy is, largely, troubling.  The hetero-scope of the film (read: seeing lesbians from the gaze of heterosexual males and from the pen of a heterosexual writer and director) makes the film seem oddly immature, and in the years since, has broken open the floodgates on critical analysis over just what a wrong-headed film this is.  For the record, however, I still enjoy the film.  I appreciate Smith’s dialogue and his world and his characters, and I appreciate that the film has stirred debate.  That’s what a film should do.

One person who wasn’t carping about the film was Sav Rogers, the director of the new documentary Chasing Chasing Amy, who watched the film over and over and over as a 12-year-old and saw it as cathartic to his sexual identity.  The film is a wise and wonderful journey as we follow Rogers, who was a bullied lesbian as a teenager and then today is in transition while romancing his very supportive girlfriend-later-wife Trish whose moments of intimacy are touching and beautiful.

But in the center is Chasing Amy and Roger’s film explores the movie’s odd legacy within the LGBTQ+ community, it’s place in the conversation and why it is generally hated by most.  Is it good representation?  What does it have to say?  And why does its message offend so many?  What was the film saying that seems so wrong-headed?

To get to the center of those questions, Rogers interviews not only Smith (who got invited to his house) but also the film’s star Joey Lauren-Adams and his longtime collaborator Scott Mosier.  What is special about Rogers’ approach is that he isn’t satisfied to delve into familiar questions.  Adams is quite happy that she’s not going to give “the same bullshit ‘Chasing Amy’ interview.”  She reflects not only on the film and the role, but also what it meant to her at the time and odd memories that the dredges up especially having been so closely associated with Harvey Weinstein.

This is where the film turns.  Rogers’ personal journey takes a backseat when the interview subjects reflect on their time dealing with Weinstein and what memories it pulls out of their minds when people bring up the subject of the film.  Smith regrets his association with the man and admits that he has mentally gone through the timeline of his work and coupled it with the timeline of events in the accusations that came later.  We can see that it disturbs him.

Parallel to that are the changes happening in Rogers’ own life, which he credits to having been influenced by Chasing Amy and he has a statement about it’s meaning to him today that I found very intriguing.  As influenced as Rogers is for having experienced the film, and those who made it are haunted by the executive that they had to deal with, you get a portrait of how a film comes to different people for different reasons, even to those who dismiss it for being dated and misrepresentative.  Film had different meanings for different people and Chasing Chasing Amy illustrates that.  This is a journey, a good one about chasing what film means to you.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2023) View IMDB Filed in: Documentary