Film

Film

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A mid-century suburban caprice made nearly a decade before his Sirkian diorama Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes’s 1993 short is a delicate study of psychosexual development—pinpointing the moment when furtive obsession becomes repressed taboo. Young Stevie (Evan Bonifant), not yet seven, is a devoted fan of the eponymous, Lucille Ball–like star of The Dottie Show—he never misses an episode and spends many happy hours working on loving crayon portraits of the ringleted comedienne. Mom doesn’t mind, but to Stevie’s bewilderment, Dad views his fixation with testy disapproval, and the giggling girls at school brand him a “feminino.” To complicate matters, Dottie keeps showing up in the boy’s increasingly wild dreams about spanking. The tone of the film perfectly matches the flavor of childhood yearning—at once wistful and mortified, inchoate and weirdly specific. Zeitgeist’s DVD cleverly pairs the half-hour Dottie with Mary Hestand’s 1989 He Was Once (featuring Haynes). A nifty spoof of religious kids’ series Davey and Goliath, with live action manipulated to resemble Claymation, Hestand’s short locates the nutty sanctimony of its source and literally turns it on its ear.