In short, The Owls and Hooters are two separate films, with The Owls being a story of a group of “Older, Wiser Lesbians” who get involved in a murder, and Hooters being the documentary of the first film’s unusual production. In reality, however, the two films explore much more than the narrative which they follow.
The Owls is a very interestingly produced film noir. We begin in the middle of the narrative, in the aftermath of a murder. We find out fairly early on in the film who has done the murder, who has been murdered, and why, and so little is left to be resolved. Despite this, the main interest for the audience is the relationships of the women and the film’s original and outlandish style (hence the need for a documentary describing the film’s creation process).
The filmmakers use an interesting cocktail of unusual cinematographical features for various reasons; a distinct documentary tone, direct mode of address with the audience, non-linear narrative, and vox-pop interviews with both the characters AND the actors who play them throughout the film.
The main characters are dysfunctional, fairly bitter 40-somethings, with no solid, steady relationships portrayed. For me, the extremely believable acting of these characters may cause something of a dilemma to any younger lesbians, to whom this presentation of older lesbians may be seen as particularly negative.
The real magic of the film, for me, comes from what we learn through the documentary. Strangely, Hooters is longer than the actual film whose production it documents, and while it is not filmed with the same artistic brilliance as The Owls, Hooters tells us much more about exactly what it is which makes the film so interesting.
Hooters brings up interesting issues of sexuality and gender identity, particularly in terms of aging. The interviews with the cast and crew explain how the film was made, and what provoked them to test the conventions of filmmaking. The documentary explains that the method of filmmaking was a collective process where each cast member is able to change anything within the film. The documentary highlights both the benefits and setbacks which this caused during production.
Despite Hooters’ highlighting of important aspects within The Owls, the “presenter” of the documentary is overly odd, and her style does not fit well with the subject material she is examining. The editing and cinematography of the second film leaves much to be desired, and feels particularly amateurish when viewed directly after The Owls.
To sum up, The Owls is a brilliantly original and thought provoking lesbian film, even if the narrative is slightly weak. If you can ignore the less professional style of Hooters, you’ll get an insight of the creative process as well as much more. Definitely worth a watch!
DVD released 6th June 2011.