Slaves to the Underground

Most of this 1996 story about a Seattle guitarist who questions her relationship with her band's front woman, after running into an old boyfriend—glorifies her heterosexual relationship over her homosexual one, though a plot strand about her having been raped by another man seems intended to contradict this. Writer Bill Cody and director Kristine Peterson don't seem to know what they want to say about relationships, if they want to say anything at all, though they're very interested in—and at times very successful at—examining the connection between sex and power. Some of the script's attempts to show how Jimmy's treatment of Shelly turns from supportive to patronizing are too pointed and silly, as are some scenes meant to show that Suzy's domination of Shelly is just as destructive. Molly Gross is convincingly passive-aggressive as Shelly, and Jason Bortz struggles with the role of Jimmy, managing to come out on top in some challening scenes. But Marisa Ryan (Love Always) doesn't do much with the stereotyped Suzy except project a big personality. The band's intensely sincere songs were written by Betty Carmellini and Jenni McElrath and are performed in part by the actors.

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