Thursday, May 29, 2014

Belle: Amma Asante's Sumptuous Masterpiece Explores Forbidden Love And Acceptance In Various Ways

Belle film poster.
"Love must be a complicated thing."

Well, it certainly didn't have to be. Love can be the easiest, most naturally occurring emotion.  It's acceptance that's the more apocalyptic battle. 

Belle is a must see riveting period drama that teaches the paramount value of both love and acceptance-- the parallels are uniquely woven. Amongst opulent London backdrops and lavish scenery, blending together solid womenly friendships, racial prejudice, and forbidden romance, director Amma Asante and screenwriter Misan Sagay combine history of a remarkable realistically rendered oil painting alongside true account of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay- an Afro-European abolitionist showcasing Harriet Tubman like heroism and compassion. A compelling instrument that ties it all together are the relationships Dido forms along her journey to self-acceptance- taboo relationships that were nonetheless frowned upon. 

Born and raised under aristocratic privilege, Dido is the illegitimate bi-racial daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay. Dido's adoring father showcases paternal devotion-- the first male to fall in love with her on screen, showing her firsthand that it is the easiest emotion to feel. This acknowledgment is powerful

"You look just like your mother."

This proves apparent affection not only for Dido, but for the woman who birthed her. He sees beautiful offspring deserving to be raised of sacred birthright and leaves his child with his uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mansfield, pleading with utmost conviction for them to love and nurture her. Although no one is exactly thrilled that she is “black,” they begrudgingly agree. For Sir John Lindsay to then make her an heiress further proves that unconditional, parental endearment. Dido grows up, privileged and forms a powerful bond with her cousin Elizabeth- longest and most lovely relationship Dido has ever known. They laugh, play, and learn together, affectionately holding hands and passionately declaring inseparability. One of nine films that passed the Bechdel Test this year, Asante's film fervently illustrates beguiling closeness between these two women. Dido and Elizabeth's controversial yet synchronous devotion to one another is soon a driving force behind commissioned portrait.Vibrant backdrop to endearing friendship is a significant key, a factor that must be applauded. Having a portrait painted meant not only vast wealth and influence, but it also gave an acceptable validation to Dido- that she was loved by her family and by Elizabeth, half owner to her gracious heart.

Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have a close relationship.
Except familial love had to be hidden whenever visitors come to the Mansfield home. Dido must dine in the parlor- away from guests. It is a rule she grows accustomed to. Yes, her family shows courtesy and admiration, but society dictates all, including whom one chooses to eat meals. It is unfortunate that their love cannot stand up to such stupendous rules. The snobby, upper crust Ashfords are no exception. One brother lustily eyes Dido with impervious provocation while the other cannot contain disdainful contempt, stating rather nastily that someone of Dido's skin tone suits for cotton field dalliance in the West Indies. Yes, sexual conquests and nothing more. Rather irksome. One cannot help but wish saliva could turn into venom and spit it at such a callous bastard.

Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)  is uncomfortable in her skin.
A rather depressing scene finds Dido sitting alone, saddened, peering into elegant oval mirror. She pinches and grabs frantically at brown hued hands and face, wanting desperately to “remove”shame. It defines demeaning hardships living with being different- the wrong shade of different and reflects lack of self-love. She longs to erase brown tint, to become populated, civilized fairer skinned- more cherished “English rose” setting high impossible to reach beauty standard. Surrounded by many luxurious, pretty objects, but inadequate in her own natural born skin, Dido's frustration is a powerful outcry for acceptance in an society blatantly celebrating racism. Although short, this visceral act of self-inflicted violence causes the viewer to take definite notice. Her struggle must be endured each day and night. The glaring subjection still remains a deep seated issue today. The role of African descendents appears to always be the entertaining Negro that knows all the right English words and proper mannerisms, catering to whims, displayed as an entertaining creature meant to be an stage performer instead of interacting in human society. One cannot forget that even as slavery eventually abolished, those with an ounce of Africanism DNA were not considered one hundred percent human. The astonished stares and perverse whispers cast in Dido's direction incite anguish. Impervious gawking both offensive and rude, white prestige are grossly intrigued by "Manfield's Negro," watching her like she embodies a freak show. However, Dido ignores critics, manages to bear turmoil, head up high. I am especially proud of how Dido gives snark back to Lady Ashford who more than deserves witty slap to her haughty pedestal.

Lord Mansfield's racially charged war is thrown at Dido's feet by passionate rebel thinker John Davinier.

Dido's (Gugu Mbartha-Raw) pompous world is turned upside down by John Davinier (Sam Reid).
He educates Dido and opens her eyes to the brutal barbaric ugliness of slavery. She reads eye opening notes that uncovers glaring truths Lord Mansfield has shunned from her. Slaves bound together, starved and thirsty, thrown overboard for profit. These horrendous allegations propel Dido's fury to see justice served. Lord Mansfield has deliberately smoothed over the hardcore honesty of the world, hiding atrocities that shouldn't exist. Dido is an intelligent woman who sees everything. Not just in ways of learned mannerisms like language and piano playing, she is aware that blackness isn't tolerable via in real life and depicted art.
"We are no better than paintings."

Realities simply cannot be tucked away forever. As an adult, Dido had every right to know. She isn't some stoic individual. She often spoke up about issues that mattered-- issues that certainly weren't learned between speaking eloquent Latin and French. I also believed studying the truth behind art gave another education. Art isn't solely about talent, mechanical prowess, and pretty frames to match drapes, art also provided subtle honesty about the orders of life. In the scenes where Dido glances at pieces, at times without dialogue, viewers know precisely where her thoughts are.

Belle (Gugu Raw-Mbartha) cannot hide her curiosity over Mabel (Bethan Mary-James). Also pictured Elizabeth (Sarah Gabor).

Dido meets Mabel, a free slave who works at the Mansfield residence as a maid. Dido turns into a casual observer, studying the woman. Over breakfast, Dido confronts her family over Mabel and slavery. Lady Mansfield blows up, believing these to be vulgar topics to discuss at breakfast. Wow. Human lives masqueraded as cargo could be descendents of Dido's past, relations that she doesn't get the opportunity to know and cherish. Mabel becomes a whole different bonding experience with Dido, setting forth another loving, accepting relationship outside jurisdiction of appeasing male ego. Dido struggles with kinky tresses and Mabel comes to aide, teaching her to comb from the ends. It is an endearing scene that ignites my own memories of struggling to appreciate strands and finding those who love it too. Once rare, now acceptance is vastly growing worldwide for the almighty afro. Mabel's caring, patient comb is just the beginning. She will be not only a maid- but a secret keeper of Dido's missions to see Davinier and his band of revolutionaries. Poetic regard that she shares this with Mabel and not Elizabeth-- who probably wouldn't understand Dido's roguish behavior. I see this vigilante justice as not only Dido's, but her gift to Mabel and others like them-- that side of herself that she grows to validate. Why should Dido have esteem? Why should Mabel be one of few to be "free?" I then imagined that while everyone left the house- Dido and Mabel played dress up prior to pub rendezvous. Mabel got a chance to get out of dowdy wardrobe and lived fantasy prestige, decked out in designer corsets and posh jewels. I am surely not alone in that. I hope.

Stupid prospects of suitors and marriage eventually begin to suck the life out of Dido and Elizabeth's earlier sisterly camaraderie. It's a thorn to the side, but it happens. A woman has to marry. Not for love, of course. To combine family wealth together and make heirs. Under flaring jealousy, tempers incite and hurtful words are exchanged. Elizabeth is a poor relation and Dido, an heiress, cannot marry due to her unacceptable skin tone. Thankfully, they made up because that nonsense (though logical) was killing me. Ha.

However, after Lord Mansfield throws the gable down to the right side of things, blackness fades on Dido and John. Although, my romanticist heart celebrated their chance to love one another freely, the final type of amour Dido receives, I cannot help but wonder if Dido ever looked back into the mirror and said, "I love you, Self. Brown skin and kinky hair and brown eyes and full lips and everything in between." That was a missing piece that needed insertion. The late great Maya Angelou said:
" I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt."
Did Dido love who she was inside and out? Accept herself? Or was Davinier her sole savior in seeing the beauty within? Perhaps so. I just preferred to see film end that way or at least give a glimpse into how Dido's perceptions shifted.

The famous painting of Dido and Elizabeth showcases their love and affection towards one another, a close bond depicted well in the film.
However, Belle is a visualized dream seeming to have been majestically stolen from my very own thoughts, a dream that impresses childhood fascination. A brown skinned woman dressed in fancifully designed, lacy, bow adorned, colorful ball gowns, wearing resplendent jewelry fit for a princess brings any period Disney film to shame. If only Princess and the Frog took this route. Words cannot begin to express the sentimental nature of Asante's gift. For the film is more than a glorious account of one woman's desire to see ancestors set free. It showcases a woman deserving love and respect.

 In Indiewire, Asante states:
When you see the real painting, which is at Scone Palace where Lord Mansfield was born, there’s more depth, you can see right to the back of the painting. And I got so much from it. The way Elizabeth is touching Dido, the way Dido is pointing at herself and looking straight at the painting, I wanted that to be her landing place, where she ends up. Once she’s combined this idea of being half daughter of slave, half daughter of aristocrat, half black, half white, all these seemingly contradictory terms, she has to combine and accept, and say "I’m ok with who I am. I’m bloody different from everyone I know, but I’m ok with that." I always say, this isn’t a Cinderella story, this isn’t rags to riches, this is a story of a girl who was loved, but has to teach people the right way to love her, the way she needs to be loved. So I took as much as I could from the painting, and then focused on the research as well.
I have it in mind that I will see this painting. I will. This piece of art commemorates womenly friendships in such a radiant light. We don't see racial prejudice or disdain. We don't see society dictating placement. We see two women who love one another intimately, familiarly.  Not incestuous or lesbian love, but an ardent, accepting love.

In her first period piece, standout Gugu Mbatha-Raw exhibited a versatile array of emotion as a woman torn between two worlds- European privilege and African ancestry. Mbatha-Raw must helm more of this purely white genre, breaking racial prejudice, setting foot into perhaps popular Jane Austen arena. One cannot help but wonder if Tom Felton was chosen due to his venerable sneering capability and the fact that one of his famous roles, Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter series included abhorrent dislike of Mudbloods- mixed magical folk.

Still, Asante shepherding Dido's story brings forth an inspiring hope for more to come. Only her second film, this BAFTA Award winning former actress, producer, and director is breaking new ground. Everyone is cheering her on. Palm Springs Film Festival named her a Director to Watch and she's won the Signis Award at the Miami Film Festival. Profound ladies like Terry McMillon are singing her praises on Twitter and interest has sprung all over again for her award winning The Way of Life-- a film she not only directed, she wrote the screenplay! I love that in the Guardian she says that she and Dido have walked the same division everyday, defining herself bi-cultural. She truly is opening doors for other African descent filmmakers from around the globe. Perhaps with Steve McQueen's, also Afro-British, earlier Oscar win this year, we'll see the brilliant Asante in the winner's circle someday.

Amma Asante is an up and coming director that we all must watch and support. She is paving the way.
Thus, I have recommended Belle to all those who will listen and pray that once awards season hits that Belle will not be put on backburner, especially for costume design. Directional effort for Asante and a nod for Mbatha-Raw might be a bigger stretch, but we don't want to have another Pariah or Fruitvale Station on our hands. Hollywood needs to wake up and smell the beauty-- the beauty of the Negro experience whether it be in America or in the heart of Europe or anywhere else in the world. People of color exist and they have human experiences worth acknowledging, worth accepting.

Belle is a fascinating, moving art that makes tears fall in great abundance. A viewer simply cannot help desiring Kleenex and some good old- fashioned love.

Now please go watch. It's playing nationwide. 



Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Grace Jones: Fem Film Rogue Icon Spotlight

Zula (Grace Jones) stole the show in Conan the Destroyer.
I remember gathering at the television set, the whole family making it a big deal that Conan the Destroyer was coming on for the very first time. As our little hands dug into a mass of buttery special movie occasion popcorn, the appreciation in my mother's large hazel eyes grew. Not at the sight of star- Arnold Schwarzenegger. She gazed at the sight of Grace Jones with pure awe, excitedly shouting, “I didn't know Grace Jones was in this!” Now anyone at school would call Grace Jones unattractive and dark skinned calamity. No one would ever wear their hair that short and "masculine" trimmed into box formation. Especially not without a relaxer. In my mother's eyes and joyful tone of her voice, she admired this woman and so did I. Jones' Zula battled men twice her size and killed them with ease, expression wild and dangerous. Before Xena the Warrior Princess's yodeled cries and The Walking Dead's Michonne burst into the world slashing zombies with a machete, dreadlocks flying high, Grace Jones' Zula thrust herself into my heart like an arrowed dagger, piercing tender flesh asunder. As a child, I couldn't comprehend that emotion. Still, idealizing straight hair, thinner lips, and lighter skin- I had wanted that real American dream no one wants to talk about. 

Of course, Grace Jones set me straight real quick.

Jones is the diamond in the rut.
Hailing from Jamaica, born on this beautiful day (like playwright Lorraine Hansberry) in 1948, Grace Jones is all guts and glory. A fashion icon, a model, a musician, and a sexy firecracker, she sparkles every composition appealingly chiseled face and lithe body sets foot upon. She gives the most boring space pizzazz and personality. Taking charge, this bold, rebellious, creative genius has inspired millions since she stepped on the scene. Boxed haircuts and tailored men suits aren't just for the male equation anymore. From the hip 80s to beyond, Jones took "masculine" styles and gave them her own signature flare, marketing a brand new campaign of terming beautiful fashionista. 

There is power in Jones' version of sexual freedom. Some say it's embarrassing. Others say it's demeaning to a culture, a race that is often viewed as overly promiscuous. She is blunt and real. By acknowledging what drives others discomfort, she isn't afraid. Nope. She isn't sugar coating to the massively uptight agenda. Most protestors only despise Jones because she doesn't "look" sexy to them. That aesthetic reveals itself in a rather glaring manner. Skin nearing ebony shade, thick, pouty lips, African jawline, and choosing to wear hair in a short boyish natural makes certain characters clench their teeth in disgust. Top off that appearance with men's clothing and hell breaks loose.

An old American dream of whitewashed beauty revealed- disturbing and utterly wrong to glorify one race over another...
Whilst growing up, I disliked myself for all the wrong reasons. For not meeting idealized standards of beauty. Elle, Glamour, Vogue, and Vanity Fair told my teenage self countless times via imagery and startling text that to be lovely, to be desirable is to be pale with long straightened hair and thinner facial features, to be so bright, one looked like a halo missing angel from a period painting. That above image of Jones decked in "whiteface" was my dream- blue eyed, light skinned, and "perfect" haired fantasy. To scrub away darkness, the brown stained skin that seems to still symbolize grotesque monstrosity.

However, one day, I happened upon a stark black and white image of Jones that shattered my brainwashed mind. She looked stunning. So stunning that I observed the portrait for quite a while. Sensuous black eyes staring out at me, daring and challenging. Not whispering quietly. Like she knew things that she shouldn't know. Dressed in squared suit, no shirt underneath, revealing toned breastbone, she spoke loud despite lips closed over stemmed white cigarette. That day she told me to stop hiding behind those magazines, that those ideologies are not me, not catered to me. That I must be proud, free-spirited, and reckless. There is a wisdom in knowing true self- in being so genuine in that self that no cruel words could ever break that loyal, courageous bond. Loving self should be the strongest relationship in a human being;s life before loving another. At least I think so. I also felt a burgeoning love for Jones blossom, as well as the beginning of accepting myself, my appearance in the mirror- afro haired, brown skinned, and thick featured. I respect Jones and have always viewed her as a role model, a worthy inspiration.

I still recall Zula and her bravery. Zula seemed to be Grace herself. Fighting battles that media tossed. She always hits right back, widening, expressive eyes and opened mouth cross between shock and a smile.

Grace Jones is definitely a rogue, a fiery, amazing rule breaker. We need more women to be this passionate about running from the pack. She teaches us to stand out from the crowd and please ourselves first. 

Who cares about anyone else's perspective right?

A picture is worth a thousand silent words.
Closing off with some of the birthday girl's best quotes:

“I’ve always been a rebel. I never do things the way they’re supposed to be done. Either I go in the opposite direction or I create a new direction for myself, regardless of what the rules are or what society says.”

“Men are terrified of me. I can easily step into the man’s shoe, and that puts the man in a position where he has to become the female. That’s what sets off the tension. But my image is supposed to frighten men…”

“It doesn’t surprise me that people can’t see beyond my image. It’s amazing, but I can understand it. That’s what image is for. But it’s never a problem for me. It’s only a problem for them. I don’t really care. I do what I want regardless.”

“I think I’m doing a service to black women by portraying myself as a sex machine. I mean, what’s wrong with being a sex machine, darling? Sex is large, sex is life, sex is as large as life, so it appeals to anyone that’s living, or rather it should.”




Saturday, May 17, 2014

Quirky "Tiger Lily Road" Is All Dirty Sex, Romantic Lies, & No Kinky Videotape

"Tiger Lily Road" film poster.
Tiger Lily Road is a twisted little gem that deserves recognition for focusing on women over a certain age, especially in pertains to rather erotic subject matter. The dark, witty dramedy contains humorous one-liners and candid offbeat moments that weave magical touches of irresistible sweetness into its whimsical web. Quite commendable that Michael Medeiros's first full length feature screenplay celebrates heterosexual intercourse whilst dismantling ageism taboos. Let's applaud that.
Now the film centers on Annie and Louise- best friends who couldn't be any different than the other. Bold and assertive, Louise is the self-annointed town slut school principal, having had her way with any man she finds desirable. That happens to include Annie's on again off again boyfriend, Russ, the town deputy. Annie is a kind and docile veterinarian. The reclusive lily of the story, Annie speaks with softened tones and her facial expressions are often tender, subdued, and compassionate. She contemplates a lot. Certain scenes focus on water- a pure, sensually stirring element that seems to metaphor her muted nature. Annie is simply a closeted hermit whereas Louise is promiscuous and flaunts worldliness. Conflicting personalities could only mean opposing views on imperative matters like sleeping around. 

And there's a lot of sleeping around. Implied and otherwise.

Enter Russ- the first of two slap-worthy male characters. He has always jerked Annie around and has shacked up with Louise on numerous occasions. At an uncomfortable dinner, he brings Annie and Louise identical jewelry boxes (ASSHOLE!) and announces astonishing news- he's marrying a chick half his age. Afterwards, the pissed duo take a blood oath, vowing to swear off all men and be alpha feministic bitch goddesses.

Yippee! 
Sadly, this empowerment pact is short lived. Broken within twenty-four hours.
Louise (Karen Chamberlain) and Annie (Ilvi Dulack) easily capture the victim at gunpoint.
Enter Ricky- another man they would soon intimately share. Except he's younger and much more virile than Russ. After accidentally killing Russ, Ricky, a real piece of work jerk is rewarded with a tranquilizer dart in the derriere. It leads to an unorthodox kidnapping by Annie and Louise. Is this just desserts for the young dangerous loose cannon who recently slathered a woman's face with ketchup and mustard and then proceeded to slap that same face with a hotdog? The cold, heartless villain who dumped a woman's head in a toilet days later? His reign of lecherous assault on women would come to an end thanks to being snowed in on the home of what appeared to be a quaint, cookie cutter lady's residence.
But appearances are the most easily deceived notion...
It is a hilarious predicament. Ricky embodies youth, strength, and agility, but has become overpowered by women twice his age. Downright hysterical this whole age factor. He searches for an escape route via perceptive hazel eyes. Yet he is stuck. Stuck. Stuck being held at gunpoint and handcuffed to a bed. Predatory Louise is on Ricky like white on rice. Her bright, vivid gaze greatly implies whetted appetite for depraved bodily contact. She licks pink lips in provocation, watching the man pee with greedy relish. In fact, it is disturbing. Makes one scratch their heads and wonder about such perverse candidness. Then it comes. It actually comes. A horrendous rape revenge scenario that is utterly shocking- a woman taking advantage of a vulnerable man. Short, grotesque scene stained with revulsion. Should this empower women? Should this brand of vigilante justice be applauded? 

Wait. 

Should Louise be considered a vigilante? 
Ricky (Tom Pelphrey) cannot get privacy- not even in the bathroom and Louise (Karen Chamberlain) seems to have forgotten the Blood Oath.
"If it was one of us in there, they wouldn't think twice!"
She uses above argument to justify her own violent curiosity.
In this act, Louise has drugged the captive and proceeds to unleash unabashed prowess, striding atop him like a fiery alleyway cat in heat. Ricky protests, telling her to "get off" and piteously tugs on his handcuffs. Yet in a helpless situation, powerless and at her mercy, he receives lecherous punishment.  It is rather comical that Louise speaks about MILFs when she's not actually a parent. Her own moral compass is a bit misconstrued, lopsided even. Rape certainly solves no problems and it dirties an otherwise complicated situation. Sure he killed Russ and spat scrambled egg into her hair, but nothing gave excuse for Louise to overplay the vengeful vixen. Her actions are not honorable.

The scene ignited alarming tendency to wash hands clean and forget that such aberrant compulsiveness ever existed inside a person.
Ricky (Tom Pelphrey) stares at off screen Annie (Ilvi Dulack)- intended target.
On the other hand, dear sweet vulnerable Annie refuses to save Ricky from Louise's wrath. That tarnishes her halo just a bit. However, that doesn't diminish her purpose. She is the softer of the two, sole representation of feminine weakness. She represses physical desires by making every scenario about work-in-progress. Ricky uses Annie as an instrument, starting up conversation, lying casually, lifting lines from movies, going as far as feigning abusive past. Despite Louise's warnings, Annie laps up all of Ricky's manipulations, eating from his hand like an impuissant puppy needing sustenance. He cranks up the charm and she cannot resist alluring temptation. Over romantic candlelight, the mood for seduction is set. Is there anything sexier than a man in eggplant Jezebel glittered t-shirt and heart decorated pajama pants? I think not. While Louise controlled Ricky in crude aggressively charged manner, Annie lets the opportunistic man take advantage of her, lying underneath dominating figure, defeated in the alluring game of one-armed horizontal tango. He initiates the whole damn scenario and she lets him, breathing out a raspy “okay” as the deed gets cracking. It is creepily reminscent of an earlier scene of a little girl underneath a boy on the playground, a symbolism of how “sex is supposed to be-” aggressor (man) on top, complacent (lady) on the bottom.  

Still, Annie enjoys herself and who could blame her?

Bang. Bang. Bang. 

Suddenly her water visions symbolize urgent freedom. Sex is magical.
Betty (Rita Gardner) has discovered dildos!
Tiger Lily Road goes beyond double teaming Louise and Annie. Unforgettable moments include an eccentric elder lady who purposefully walks down the street too slow and hilariously kooky Betty- Annie's ailing mother. Sure, Betty loves her puzzles and overly attentive daughter, but watching her unearth dildo satisfaction was well worth movie ticket fare. I had no shame in shouting out “that's right! Do your thing!” to Betty. Cheer leading might be uncomfortable to a select few, but if men like Hugh Hefner can flaunt his fervent randiness at 88 years-old and be celebrated for it, why can't Betty have raucous fun too? Plus, she doesn't need a man to do it either. She mentions Russ fixing the washer a couple of times (something he doesn't even do!), but the great thing about Betty is that she is rarely in scenes with a male character. As for dildo enjoyment, it is a secret only the audience knows. Except, the whole awkward fact that Louise owned this dildo troubles the mind. These women tend to over share. Let's just hope it was brand spanking new and move on.

Towards the climax, Ricky tells the cops that he had been raped. They laugh it off, taking him away and shake their heads in disbelief.

Although summarized as a modern day fairy tale, there is nothing Hans Christian Anderson about Tiger Lily Road's narrative. With its mischievous snaps and nefarious whips, Brothers Grimm would be a more viable comparison. It is imperative to point out a glaring flaw. Fairy tales have an annoying tendency to concentrate on the youth as though that defines beautiful. It makes for terrifying notion that wrinkles equal powerlessness and loss of physical attraction. Medeiros concentrates on both the cruel and graceful side of maturity. These three women (Annie, Louise, and Betty) take on the age gods and win or lose some piece of dignity. It is an intriguing focus, viewing how each responds to their own personal awakening and how they come to grips with that nature.
Annie (Ilvi Dulack) and Louise (Karen Chamberlain) know that cookies (and possibly off screen orgies) will always melt some part of a delivery man (Kevin Kane)- heart or whatever.
I have known about Tiger Lily Road for quite a while and not ashamed to admit originally tuning in for the kidnapped eye candy. Tom Pelphrey, hailing from my old favorite soap opera Guiding Light, fits nicely amongst the cast, playing sarcastic, potty-mouthing, bad ass Ricky. Overall, he enacted with all the brilliance well known by many who have seen his versatile work. He just keeps getting better. I did get a lot more than bargained for. Performances from Ilvi Dulack and Karen Chamberlain are quite splendid treats- an added bonus. Dulack breathes warm humility into Annie while Chamberlain's Louise is troublesome, wild, and bitchtastic! The way these two women interacted with each other on screen- whether it be emotional sisterly bonding or over the top fighting (at least they threw plates and not fists) made for a believable friendship. Medeiros' also cameos as Deputy Bob, a notably funny scene stealer. 
Besides the thoughtful "don't be a lily all your life" sentiment, here is another moral of the Tiger Lily Road tale: surpassing twenty, thirty, forty, and so forth doesn't mean that a woman stops having sex, thinking about sex, or masturbating. Basic human inclinations don't die. They at times can manifest and grow larger than a beanstalk. In the end, everyone controls their own destiny. No romantic qualms. No silly pipe dreams about love. It's all about eating cookies and using men in a disposable manner. They don't even have to be kidnapped at gunpoint.
Except well, the ladies still share and inquisitive minds wonder if they let Betty join in.