The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister
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The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

UK, 2010, 90 Minute Running Time
US Premiere
Genre/Subjects: Arts & Literature, Biography / History, Discrimination, Drama, Gender, Lesbian
Program: Opening Night
Language: English

DIRECTOR: James Kent

What might have happened if Elizabeth Bennet had ignored Mr. Darcy and pursued the local ladies? That scenario only begins to describe The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, the incredible, based-on-fact tale of an early 19th century English gentlewoman who “preferred the fairer sex” and recorded her conquests in a coded diary. But get ready — this is no decorous, Jane Austen costume drama. Anne and her beloved Mariana are sneaking off into the woods for a clandestine dalliance in the first five minutes and even manage a romantic bathtub scene. Nor is Mariana alone in succumbing to Anne’s charms. The independent Anne cruises girls in church and favors the classic pickup line, “Are you fond of Byron?”

This polished, BBC-produced period romance is like nothing you have seen before. The lush film charges ahead at a lively pace as Anne juggles fickle lovers, jealous best friends, sinister coalmine owners, and estate improvements. As her uncle’s only heir, Anne possesses unusual independence for a woman of her time, and makes good use of it, pursuing “manly” pleasures like reading Greek and practicing her shooting. When Anne declares she will never marry, and instead seek a female companion, her resigned aunt comments, “I suppose a lady will know what pleases you better than a man.”

Which lady does Anne have in her sights? Heart-breaker Mariana? Faithful friend Tib? Or will it be pretty Miss Walker, the wealthiest heiress in the county? Audiences will cheer as Anne manages to carve a lesbian life for herself in Regency England, an era so pre-Stonewall it seems as far away as the stone age. — MONICA NOLAN

Text Voting Code: F113



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