Looking for Cheyenne


A justified lament about much of American queer cinema is that it has stalled—or, post–New Queer Cinema—
devolved into an adolescent stupor of one-note queerness (coming out/prowling nightlife/facile relationship comedies and dramas). The French, lesbian-centered Looking for Cheyenne is grown-up fare. When Parisian journalist Cheyenne (Mila Dekker) loses her job and can’t find another after a year, her loss triggers a fury at “the system” and the way it exploits and oppresses common folk. First by circumstance, then by choice, she adopts a Spartan way of life that includes turning her back on cars, electricity, and the city itself—all of which alienates her girlfriend, Sonia. “She decided to do without,” says one character. “She turned it into a philosophy.” Director Valérie Minetto, working from a screenplay she co-wrote with Cécile Vargaftig, has fashioned a beguiling comedy from a Marxist-inflected thesis that is filled with characters who rage against the machine with pessimism, optimism, and naïveté—sometimes in rotation. The sprawling cast of characters break the fourth wall to address the camera, and then communicate with one another through dream and fantasy sequences. At heart, the film is about the ways in which money-driven politics and big business wreak havoc on everyday lives, with its great strength being its casual positioning of a lesbian relationship as the nexus for those conversations. And without a bit of saccharine, it makes the case that human connection is the one true glitch in the matrix.