Imagine “Brokeback…” with two gorgeous women, it isn’t hard to do. Imagine “Lolita” with two beauties, in schoolgirl uniforms, too. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope you’ll consider “Loving Annabelle,” it sure is a lot of fun.
In spite of the premise that reads more like a “Penthouse” letter, Brooks’ controversial romance is much more heart felt and complex in examining both of its characters and their intentions toward one another. Simone is a doting Catholic school teacher who is being pressured to marry her boyfriend while still grieving over the death of her lifelong friend and possible lover, while Annabelle is a girl without a mother figure, and lost the love of her life.
The girls are not much lovers as they are inadvertent soul mates who, one way or another, find themselves in each others arms. Annabelle however, is the adventurous daughter of a Senator who gains an instant sexual attraction with her teacher, and pursues her in a subtle series of seduction and foreplay that make this steamier than it promises.
Brooks builds up the sheer sexual tension between Annabelle and Simone in the vein of Lolita and Professor Humbert, as they exchange glances, trade stories that, whether they know it or not, is a back and forth of dares and opportunities neither want to take just yet, and finally leads with a passionate sexual affair. Erin Kelly is memorable as the wise beyond her years Annabelle who seems to know what Simone’s troubles are and is intent on relieving them.
Brooks’ film will surely cause a stir as many sexual fantasies occur within a church, and completely disregard any consideration of religion applying to romance and affairs of the same sex. Annabelle’s appeal is not so much in her angelic idyllic appearance, but more in her worn traveled personality. She’s a girl who’s basically been through it all at such a young age, and she spawns more discovery and sexual curiosity among her roommates and friends.
“Loving Annabelle” is directed in a very misty and soapy atmosphere that undercuts its attempts at drama and true chemistry, and it doesn’t help the fact that Brooks doesn’t hesitate to get as cheesy as possible including Annabelle singing to Simone at a party, an obligatory bitchy character for the sake of drama.
But in spite of the caveats, Brooks’ film is about two people choosing obligation over love, expectations from society over self-fulfillment, and what happens when religion interferes with romance.