02nd Oct2023

LFF 2023: ‘Chasing Chasing Amy’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Featuring: Joey Lauren Adams, Andrew Ahn, Trish Bendix, Scott Mosier, Kevin Smith, Guinevere Turner | Written and Directed by Sav Rodgers

On 1st May 2020, a Ted Talk video went live of Sav Rodgers sharing how 1997’s Chasing Amy saved his adolescent life while growing up queer in Kansas. Film critic Roger Ebert’s description of the film described how it forced a young artist to question all ideas he had about himself, something which is also true of Sav’s journey. This led him to make Chasing Chasing Amy, a documentary about Kevin Smith’s third feature film.

As the video was shared, wider interest was ignited in the documentary Sav mentioned that he was making, leading to Kevin Smith himself reaching out. The writer/director is reflective of his past, offering friendliness while recounting how the film kept his career alive, the real-life inspirations for the story, and the regrets which linger in hindsight.

In discussing the film’s legacy within LGBTQ+ cinema, talking head interviews offer many insights on how the legacy can be resonant and harmful. There is an understanding of the criticisms, such as how it falls into troubling tropes including a straight man’s perseverance paying off as he gets with his lesbian friend. There is also praise for how it offers language which allows the woman lead to share her experience and verbalise how she reached her conclusion on her own terms. However unintended, there is also an effective depiction of biphobia within a time where representation swung between no depiction and dismissals of bisexuality as “just a phase.” It is an even-handed look at the many sides of this film’s impact on the queer community.

A keen sincerity is felt within this documentary, particularly when Sav gets to visit the locations which appeared in the film and even recreate some scenes. His expression is repeatedly shown, maintaining professionalism while also in disbelief that he is in the company of people responsible for a work he adored. He is not just an observer, sharing his own growth as he marries his sweetheart and becomes less reliant on the Ben Affleck film for support during dark times. A touching moment sees Sav coming out as transgender, to which Smith offers touching affirmation

The most sobering moment comes during Joey Lauren Adams’ interview, as she shares the difficulty in looking back upon this moment from her life. While Smith has been open about how much he has grown since the time he and Adams were a couple, she still had to live through such a painful past and grapples with the burden of idealisation that Sav has put upon her. Moments like this and the Weinstein-shaped elephant in the room are given the seriousness they deserve, and prevent this documentary from becoming another forgettable puff-piece.

While elements may not hold up well about Chasing Amy, it still holds a lot of meaning to some people’s development in realising who they are. By the end, Sav is forced to reflect on his own identity and whether he still needs the film as he perseveres towards the future. This delivers a touching end to a personal and heartfelt work that deserves to be seen, whether viewers like or dislike Smith’s feature.

**** 4/5

Chasing Chasing Amy screens as part of this year’s London Film Festival on October 14th.


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