The two main characters in The Foxy Merkins are not foxy ladies in the Jimi Hendrix sense. Smart? Yes. Sassy? Sure. But smouldering, not so much. The film is in fact, a fictional comedy based on the misadventures of two homeless, lesbian hookers.
The film was directed by Madeleine Olnek who doubles as a writer here along with the film’s two stars, Lisa Haas and Jackie Monahan. The trio had previously worked together on Co-dependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same, which was selected as part of the Sundance Film Festival. This time around they’ve fashioned an off-beat character study that is slow in its pacing but feels quite realistic at times.
Margaret (Haas) has moved to New York to find her mother (in a sub-plot that isn’t satisfactorily explored or resolved). She is a bumbling, sloppy and awkward woman who lacks employable skills. So she turns to lesbian prostitution even though she is stocky, bespectacled and frumpy. Luckily, this naïve girl meets the fast-talking, street smart, Jo (Monahan) who is a heterosexual that enjoys turning tricks with women.
The two ladies bond despite their obvious differences in personality and appearances (and a good chemistry is noticeable between the two actresses). They get up to strange sexploits and deal with it with a king of strange irreverence, from closeted socialites to homophobic republicans, there’s also wealthy housewives and even struggling arts students. It seems that most people are fair game which suits Jo as she is a grifter from way back, even though she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
The film does feature some interviews with the girls’ competition, which makes it appear quite real and like a documentary for a brief period. But this adds another layer of ambiguity to a film that was already rather incohesive. There is also an odd cameo from Girls’ Alex Karpovsky who plays a creepy merkin salesman (merkins are a kind of wig for your vagina). We originally meet him in a cemetery but he later resurfaces as a CNN executive who refuses to buy a sex tape because it features the fat Margaret and a homophobic republican politician.
The Foxy Merkins is a lo-fi film that was recorded with handheld cameras. It is well-meaning in satirising stereotypes and having two engaging female lead characters tackling the buddy, bromance film genre. But it fails overall in the storytelling department because some subplots are not explored properly, the ending feels rushed and at its worst it seems like a sketch that has been stretched out to feature length. The Foxy Merkins is also repetitive and simple but it does have heart and it shows two strong women’s close camaraderie and the good, bad and ugly aspects of their sexuality.
Originally published on 16 March 2015 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2015/03/16/melbourne-queer-film-festival-review-the-foxy-merkins-usa-2013/
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