Coming-of-age as a young lesbian can be an isolating experience. Growing into yourself is hard, especially when you don’t feel like you have a nurturing community around you to show you the way. When all of a sudden you fall victim to a crush, sometimes praying to your bedroom shrine of celesbians is the best you can do. Written and directed by BBC New Creative Anna Mouzouri, Fruity tells the story of Mina (Grace Daly), who falls for a girl she meets in the supermarket over the produce stand, but can’t escape the intrusive thoughts that stop her from acting on her feelings.
Though the subject of Mina’s involuntary fantasies might seem unusual, her fixation with fruit is rather tongue-in-cheek – a visual and tactile signifier of her burgeoning sexuality. Fruity is a whimsical comedy that manages to speak directly to its young lesbian audience without any dialogue whatsoever. What it lacks in words it makes up for in fun visual quips and skilful editing (by our own Graciela Mae) that communicate Mina’s anxieties in coming to terms with her sexual desires.
The saccharine imagery is incredibly sensory; the fleshy fruit and seeping juices are a not so subtle allusion to sexual intimacy. Displacing often unfamiliar and overwhelming desires onto objects is a powerful trope in queer coming-of-age films: it allows for sexuality to be explored safely and privately, but can also lead to anxiety when eventually confronting the real thing.
Daly’s performance as Mina is completely endearing; she is comically clueless and wholly sympathetic. We laugh with her rather than at her, because chances are, we’ve felt the same at some point. There are so many unique aspects of lesbian culture that are usually either made fun of or not mentioned at all. In Fruity, the cringe is just an authentic part of the experience. Not knowing how to masturbate or make a move on a girl is nothing to be ashamed of. Equally, there’s no right way to be a lesbian. Mina, like many of us, is still figuring it all out.
The mysterious girl from the supermarket (Nenda Neururer) provides the meet-cute of dreams; from the moment the girls’ eyes meet, you understand why Mina forgets how to speak. Georgia’s presence is fleeting but utterly compelling, from her perfectly-coordinated pink outfit to her equally warm demeanour. Fruity‘s rosy colour palette brings to mind the kitsch visuals of 90s comedies like But I’m a Cheerleader; an affectionate ode to high femininity that simultaneously detaches itself from heteronormative gender roles.
Queer art has often been about excess, and Fruity is no exception. Its campy effervescence lingers after just four short minutes, the future of its charming romantic interests left to our imaginations. It’s impossible to watch without a smile. Yet again we are reminded of the importance of women-led film crews, and the original, invigorating art that their collaboration can foster. Films like Fruity pave an exciting path towards the future of lesbian cinema and women filmmakers representing their own communities.
Fruity is available to stream on BBC iPlayer
by Meg Wilson
Meg (she/they) is a Mancunian film studies graduate with an MA in gender, sexuality and culture, now working in secondary education in London. When not wrangling her cats or playing football, she dreams of being a professor and writing endless books on lesbian cinema just because she can. Their favourite films include Carol, Moonlight, and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and she’ll always have a soft spot for Matilda. Find them on Twitter.