BFI FLARE – Short ‘Treacle’ Casts a Spotlight Onto Bisexuality

Treacle is centered on Belle (April Kelley) and Jessie (Ariana Anderson) who embark on a road trip across California. The holiday had been organised by Jessie as a gift to her ex but, after a break-up, Belle came along for the ride instead. The film revolves around these two women and their interactions over a twenty-four hour period.

Directed by Rosie Westhoff and written by April Kelley, Treacle quickly establishes the women’s natural affinity with Jessie’s opening line, “God, you look like shit!” An introduction that speaks volumes about the comfort of their friendship. Both Kelley and Anderson interact with a familiarity that feels as though it has existed for years. The pair arrive at a beautiful villa equipped with a luxurious swimming pool, a pink inflatable flamingo and avocados – everything they could possibly need. Basking in the sun they relax and drink, enjoying each others company in a display of intimate friendship. But it is a drunken impulsiveness that results in a strain upon their bond.

Halyna Hutchins, director of photography, creates a beautiful contrast between the bright sunshine to the blue-tinged night. The room is illuminated with subtly glowing light. Jessie and Belle gravitate towards each other and meet in the middle of the bed, their skin glistening in the darkness. They lay side by side in the ocean of the bed sheets, the duvet ripples around the two women as their shadows merge into one.

The next morning, things are not the same. Jessie tries to brush off what happened as a drunken mistake, but this doesn’t sit well with Belle. The once friendly and comfortable rapport they shared is now icy and uncomfortable. Belle must tackle the silence with which Jessie greets her. Now in the driver’s seat, Belle stands her ground in conversation, frustrated by Jessie’s silence and hurt by the lack of acknowledgment for her feelings. The confrontation results in Belle unleashing words full of raw emotion, visibly upset at the way she is being treated and the lack of respect towards her emotions. Treacle allows Belle, as a bisexual woman, to voice that being bisexual is not an experiment for her.

As a short film, Treacle gives time and attention to a bisexual woman who is able to speak her thoughts and combat perceptions of her sexual identity. Whilst the erasure of bisexuality exists within queer cinema, Treacle displays how essential visibility is and the types of conversations that still need to take place.

by Em Maskell

Originally from the flatlands of Norfolk, Emily now studies Film at De Montfort University. She’s often found cuddling her dog and wearing oversized jumpers with a big mug of tea. When Em’s not in the cinema, she spends too much time re-watching Bo Burnham’s stand-up comedy and subjecting her friends to her Call Me By Your Name ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter: @EmMaskell

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