Maria Maggenti's debut redux: 'The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love' now on BluRay

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Tuesday March 22, 2022
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Laurel Holloman and Nicole Ari Parker in 'The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love/
Laurel Holloman and Nicole Ari Parker in 'The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love/

Remastered and reissued on Blu-ray, Maria Maggenti's 1995 debut feature film, The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, is now available from Strand Releasing. The writer-director shared her impressions on revisiting her indie classic.

The story of Two Girls involves Randy (Laurel Holloman), a teen baby dyke who lives with a trio of older lesbians, after being abandoned by her conservative mother. She works at a gas station. She's taunted at school, and may not graduate since she's failing Math. Randy's also in the midst of ending a relationship with Wendy, an older married woman.

When Evie (Nicole Ari Parker) stops by the gas station to get air in a tire of her car, the two young women realize they attend the same high school, and soon become friends in an awkward way. After some mild flirtations and a dinner with Randy's chosen family, the two begin an innocent romance. But when Evie comes out to her clique-ish three friends, they abandon her.

Randy and Evie get to spend the night alone at Evie's house, becoming more intimate. More 'adventures' take place, but what's amusing about the film is its innocuous and lightly comic edge, free of the angst of many coming of age queer features of the time.

Nicole Ari Parker and Laurel Holloman in 'The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love'  

Since then, Maggenti wrote the screenplay for Before I Fall (2017), and has been an executive producer, co-producer and writer for many hit TV series, including Motherland: Fort Salem, Supergirl, UnREAL, Finding Carter and the reboot of 90210.

In a phone interview from her home on Shelter Island, New York (which she's owned since the late 1990s, and after 12 years in LA, moved there permanently in 2020), Maggenti spoke about the original release of her film and what it's like to have her movie re-released.

"It looks so beautiful," said Maggenti after seeing the remastered version a few months ago at The Metrograph cinema in downtown New York City to an appreciative audience. "It's really clean and clear and the colors are gorgeous."

Originally shot in 16mm with a 35mm blow-up for theatres, the remastered version is available on BluRay and streaming on Strand Releasing's website.

"I think the film holds up really well," said Maggenti. "There are some '90s' aspects, but it also feels like that's how it was. It was hard to be a young lesbian. And yet, I had a lesbian family which is now much more common than when I thought of it."

"It really reflects a moment in time that is not just the world around me at that time, but the world in me at that time which was still very interested in being curious about romantic relationships. It was definitely about trying to work through what it felt like to fall in love with somebody. You think that it's the last time it's ever going to happen, because it's the first time. So you say to yourself, 'It's going to last forever,' but of course it never does. That was an interesting thing to look at; my own the film being a reflection of my own emotional preoccupations which were very much about relationships and my first girlfriend, who I'm still friends with, of course."

Maria Maggenti on the 1995 set of 'The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love' with Nicole Ari Parker and Laurel Holloman  

Seen on screen
Maggenti agreed that her film holds a marked place in independent filmmaking.

"The film occupies an interesting spot in social history in terms of what it represents and how rare it was for there to be a movie like that in 1995. Lesbians were still in the place where there was no way to 'see yourself,' so the film had a huge impact because of that."

Maggenti told of how a young woman said at the Metrograph screening, "'I can't believe I've never seen this movie before!' and I said, 'That's because it came out before you were born.' She was so effected by it, telling me it was so funny and it's so sweet. Hopefully now more young lesbians will find it because it's more accessible. The middle-aged lesbians say to me, 'I have that on VHS!' One woman showed up with her videocassette. The out-of-print DVD now sells on eBay for like, $99. It's a collector's item."

In the 27 years since her debut film's release, obviously media access has changed.

"The context in which a person can see this film is so remarkably different. It's very hard for young people to understand. They're now able to see themselves reflected back and many different iterations in all kinds of media. The only way you could experience this was to go to a movie theater, which meant that some people had to drive to another town. Younger people would say there certainly are places in our country where that's still true, but the wider society is just remarkably different, and you can find your lesbians just about anywhere."

A fascinating aspect of Maggenti's film is the (spoiler alert) heightened and unresolved ending, which leaves viewers wondering if the romance between Randy and Evie can last.

"Critics hated the ending, but audiences loved it," said Maggenti. "That was my first time out, so I hadn't learned my lessons yet."

Career moves
Since Two Girls' release, the film's costars have grown as actors. Laurel Holloman starred in The L Word series and in the film Boogie Nights, while Nicole Ari Parker has guest-starred in TV series Empire, Chicago P.D., Time After Time, and most recently in the Sex and the City update And Just Like That.

Maggenti noted that Holloman told her she would not have been hired for The L Word had she not been in Two Girls. Tami Reiker, the film's cinematographer, has also since shot dozens of hit TV shows and films (The Old Guard, One Night in Miami, Carnivale).

Maggenti's recent credits are equally impressive as a co-producer and co-writer for Supergirl, Motherland: Fort Salem, Finding Carter, and as the screenwriter of 2017's beguiling Before I Fall (described in one rave review as Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day).

Director-writer Maria Maggenti  

Diverse cinema
At the mention of several of her credits being shows that feature empowered women, Maggenti said, "I've been very lucky. I had no idea I was going to go in that direction. But the way you get jobs on television shows is you interview with the creators. Part of what you talk about is your relationship to the material. They're looking for a writer who can bring something to the room that's relevant, and sometimes it's something super personal. Most people knew my work when I started; that I had already done a film about young lesbians. It's also that those are the shows I wanted to work on; very feminist."

Maggenti said that the TV industry have matured in consciousness as well.

"People realize they have to get it together. I'm still coming from a white perspective, but I do see more diversity in writers' rooms, so that's a big deal."

Although she sees the feature film industry as still lagging, change is taking place.

"The idea of doing a movie with all white people seems really uncomfortable to me." She recalled a friend who, at the recent Two Girls screening, pointed out that featuring an interracial lesbian couple had not been done. "It seemed very current, is what she was saying; also to have an upper class Black character. I wrote something that I'd never seen."

Asked what she would say, and has, to aspiring filmmakers, Maggenti said, "You have to make something that matters to you. Making films and television is not easy to do. You have to really feel like what you're doing matters and makes a difference. Don't worry about what's out there in the market. Some might say, 'We need another Wes Anderson or Shonda Rhimes. But the reason they made it is that they are utterly themselves."

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