Femme is an intensely dark, sexually explicit thriller which plays out in London’s nightlife. Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is a drag performer called Aphrodite Banks. One night during a cigarette break at a club performance, he catches the eye of Preston (the super-hot George MacKay), a buff tattooed blonde guy lurking across the road. Jules gets back to his performance and thinks nothing more of the encounter. Then later that night, after the club and in a corner shop, he encounters Preston and a group of his friends who are all straight. A brief exchange occurs between Jules and Preston which results in Preston being embarrassed in front of his mates. Preston gets very angry and viciously attacks Jules with his thug friends once Jules has left the shop.
Jules is badly shaken up after the queer-bashing and retreats from the scene for a while, spending his time endlessly gaming alone at home, much to the despair of his party-loving house-mates. Then one night, after a few months, he ventures out alone to a local gay sauna where he sees sexy Preston, clad in just a small towel. Preston doesn’t recognise Jules out of drag and the two of them end up having sex that night once they have left the sauna. Jules’ mind is spinning as he hatches a plan to seek revenge on Preston by filming sex with him and outing him by posting it online.
Jules and Preston start regularly hooking up for sex. Theirs is a brutal relationship. Drug dealer Preston flashes the cash on their dates at expensive restaurants but he has extreme anger management issues and is in the closet and flies off the handle at anything Jules does that could expose their relationship. Their sex is hard and heartless with no kissing but they both seem to like it that way. Jules tries to create opportunities to film Preston for the revenge-porn footage but it’s difficult and he risks Preston’s wrath if he’s exposed. Where will this dark, intense relationship end up?
Directors Sam H Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s award-winning Femme is first-rate. The duo successfully combines plot twists and turns, and tough then tender moments to keep the audience guessing as the fast-paced story plays out. Sexually charged, yet destructive relationships are explored – the emotionally, and sometimes physically violent, combination of lust and hatred are never far apart. Unpredictable, vulnerable characters add to the tension as does the evolving power dynamic between Jules and Preston. The theme of power runs throughout the film…queer power, drag power, losing power and reclaiming power. Stewart-Jarrett and MacKay have excellent physical chemistry between them and the complementary supporting cast, moody soundtrack, and realistic sex and night-time club scenes all combine to achieve a totally believable queer story. Highly recommended.
Queerguru’s Contributing Editor Ris Fatah is a successful fashion/luxury business consultant (when he can be bothered) who divides and wastes his time between London and Ibiza. He is a lover of all things queer, feminist, and human rights in general. @ris.fatah