Like a ludicrously expensive engagement ring, the real worth of THE RING THING is in its rarity. This film is a collage of opinion and drama about Gay and Lesbian marriage and from our perspective, when we see it as part of Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival, it is best watched with an eye to the future. It’s been over two years since same sex marriage became available to Americans. This film takes that experience and meanders off with it thereby allowing us that rare opportunity to sit in the dark and consider what happens next.
Sarah is helping her mum clean out the house for moving when she comes across her estranged father’s wedding ring. She hasn’t seen him for ten years over but something impels her to put the ring in her pocket. It only takes for Sarah to bring out the solid silver band over a glass of wine at sunset on a Provincetown beach with her girlfriend Kristen for consequences to ensue.
This accidental conversation lights a need to know in Sarah and we follow the inevitable soul searching that both women undergo to understand their own expectations and what experiences colour their view. We also see real life couples discuss their experiences. Sarah is a documentary filmmaker and her producing partner, Gary, is a divorcing gay man. Sarah decides to make a doco. Their documentary film is the context for the interviews which are intercut into the fictional story of Sarah and Kristen.
THE RING THING is by most of the team who made THAT’S NOT US which played as part of MGFF in 2016. Sarah Wharton plays Sarah and Nicole Pursell is Kristen and it is directed by William Sullivan who, with Derek Dodge, co-wrote the story. That previous film was a fully improvised offering and THE RING THING also has similar aesthetic to it.
The film has little or no music, a carefully judged hand-held feel which is low on cuts and a spontaneity which puts the rapport between the two women on display. It also judiciously chooses against taking one side or another and merely sets out the points of view even in the fictional, narrative arc. This sometimes slows down the film and the ending undoes some of the good work of the third eye approach but it has much to say to us as we embark on new socio-political landscape in Australia.
If the achievement of marriage equality has been the purpose of the fight for so long, where do we go from here? The film speaks to loving, long term couples, married and unmarried, divorced people, a marriage guidance counsellor and it raises practical issues like health insurance and the legal system and what has gone on the back burner during the campaign. The word ‘epidemic’ is used by one participant to describe the early days US experience and rush to marry.
THE RING THING is thought provoking but tempered by the emotional rendering of a love story. What you take away from the film will put the ring thing in perspective, so be careful who you see it with.
For more information about Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival visit: http://queerscreen.org.au/mardi-gras-film-festival-2018