Queerly Digital: Russian Doll

User Rating: 5 / 5

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Lesbian owned Wolfe Video offers this crime thriller which offers a better sub-plot than its main story. Melanie Brockmann Gaffney stars as Viola, a Boston detective still mourning the loss of her wife two years earlier. She and her partner EJ (Sarah Hollis) are trying to find and save the life of Darlene (Aly Trasher), who's been kidnapped after stumbling onto a murder plot involving a play called The Russian Doll which is currently in production--the playwright/star (Peter S. Adams) has lived off the play for decades. Only he's not the playwright--he stole The Russian Doll from its true author, driving the author to commit suicide.

Now, many years later, the real playwright's daughter and her boyfriend are plotting to kill the thief. Darlene is the daughter's roommate who needs to be kept silent. There are several disturbing sequences in which Darlene is tortured for trying to escape from her captors.

Russian Doll is an OK thriller, though far from a great one. Far more interesting to LGBT viewers is the sub-plot involving Viola's attempts to move on from the memory of her late wife and to start dating again. Sparks fly when Viola's Mom introduces her to the beautiful Faith (Marem Hassler). The attraction between the two women is obvious, but Viola finds herself unable to let go of her wife's ghost. She still lives in the house they shared and, two years later, has yet to remove her wedding ring. Viola soon has an erotic dream involving herself and Faith which suggests that she might finally be weakening.

The film randomly moves back and forth between the two storylines, each of which has nothing to do with the other. It's almost as though Melanie Brockmann Gaffney is starring in two completely different, unconnected films. 

The Russian Doll story does offer a few nice twists, such as when its revealed that two of the characters are actually the playwright's daughter and her boyfriend in disguise. And in the film's most shocking sequence, the thief is shot to death live on stage in front of an audience. 

The acting is decent. Gaffney is convincing as a cop determined to crack her case. She's even better as the grieving widow, struggling to come to grips with the memory of her wife and with her burgeoning feelings for the new woman in her life--Gaffney and Hassler have great chemistry as the fledgling couple. 

Trasher is superb as the kidnapping victim who's determined to break free. No matter what her captors do, she fights back, giving them quite a run for their money. And Peter S. Adams is wonderfully creepy as the thieving playwright who ruined someone's life and just doesn't care.

While no masterpiece, Russian Doll does have its moments. 

Wolfe's disc includes the film's theatrical trailer, as well as an English subtitles option. 


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