Chapter Z was lucky enough to watch Blue Jean this month at London Film Festival, and it’s definitely one we’d recommend
Blue Jean follows Jean (Rosy McEwen), a PE teacher who frequents lesbian bars at night with her long-term partner, Viv (Kerrie Hayes). Set in 1988, Thatcher’s government are about to pass Section 28 – a law that meant homosexuality was not to be ‘promoted’ – meaning Jean has to lead this double life. When new student Lois (Lucy Halliday) arrives, Jean does everything she can to stop her sexuality from being discovered.
There are moments where some of the acting or jokes feel slightly made-for-TV, but it’s easy to get over if you choose to just to see it as it is a BBC film. Aside from that McEwan, Hayes, and Halliday, all deliver exceptional performances, and we ended up enjoying the film more than we expected going into it.
Set in the North East, Jean works in a state school in Tyneside, after recently coming out as a lesbian to friends and family since being divorced. We watch students make homophobic jokes and accusations about other students’ sexuality with Jean in the room, with students unknowing and Jean staying quiet in an attempt to keep her job.
Outside of school, Jean goes to a lesbian bar with her friends and long-term partner Viv, an escape from the suffocating reality of being queer in 80s Britain. Whilst not ideal, Jean has accepted that she must live two lives if she wants to keep her job and livelihood.
That is until new student Lois joins the school, who despite not saying anything, is bullied for her queerness by Siobhan, a player in the school’s netball team that Jean coaches. Siobhan, like the rest of the school, is unknowing about Jean’s sexuality and so, whilst she is desperate for Jean’s approval, she mocks Lois. This is to ensure that no one suggests anything about her and her sexuality.
Lois ends up going to the same lesbian bar as Jean one night, causing Jean to be unsure of what to do, wanting to protect herself more than anything. And, this dilemma makes up the rest of the film.
Written and directed by Georgia Oakley, Blue Jean makes for an impressive feature debut. Ultimately, the story, paired with some great acting mainly from McEwan and Hayes, makes for an enjoyable watch. And, with the recent news that hate crimes in England are on the rise, it makes for an important watch too.