PRINCESS CYD – A Review by Cynthia Flores
First and foremost, Princess Cyd is an independent film. It has that look or colorcast that most indies do. I’m not sure what to call it yet. If it were a filter I would call it “muted,” putting everything a little out of focus. There are no songs playing in the background or soundtrack performed by pop stars that you’d recognize from the radio. I’m guessing that just wasn’t in the budget. The actors are mostly unknowns or known as day players in TV shows. In fact, the young actress playing Cyd (Jessie Pinnick) is enjoying her feature film debut with this movie. The director, Stephen Cone is a regional award winning filmmaker who teaches at Northwestern University. That being said, it lacks the “slick as shit” or “condescending tone” that most Hollywood movies about teenagers dealing with life usually have. YEAH!
Writer/director Stephen Cone has given us a kind and tender portrait that’s as much about 16-year-old Cyd as it is about her estranged middle-aged aunt Miranda (Rebecca Spence), a well-known novelist. It’s a joy to see the relationship blossom between the two even after its uncomfortable start. He handles big topics such as sexual identity, religion, being an artist, being single, or just fitting into your own skin calmly, with love and grace.
The film follows Cyd, who decides to take a break from fighting with her depressed father and spend the summer with Miranda. They have not seen each other in over nine years, not since her mother's funeral. Miranda has to deal with the stresses of a teenager in her scholarly home that’s not into reading, and can flip from sweet to biting in a blink of an eye, like most teens do. Cyd has to deal with staying in her late mother's bedroom in the home she grew up in, surrounded by pictures of her young smiling mom. You can tell she likes her aunt but is just not used to the much needed older female camaraderie and mentorship.
Shortly after her arrival, Cyd befriends Katie (Malic White), an 18-year-old barista at a local coffee shop. Katie is attracted to her, and the virginal Cyd is intrigued by the idea of a lesbian relationship.
I really like this film because it takes its time developing all the relationships in the story through its navigation of intimate and fragile moments with openness and an honest eye. The film is propelled by a strong female lead ensemble that’s full of believable hope and empathy. And the sex scenes have a ring of truth to them. They’re not meant to just titillate or exploit, but instead share the wonder of your first time exploring in the land of sex with others.
I particularly love that the writer/director conveyed that the practice of religion and who we choose to love are not mutually exclusive, or have to always be at war with each other. Princess Cyd is a sweet film that I give a solid B+ and hope you’ll see it on a screen near you.
Directed by Stephen Cone
Written By Stephen Cone
Selig Rating B+
Running Time 96min
Drama / Romance
Limited Release in Los Angeles Available VOD Dec 5th
Starring: Rebecca Spence, Jessie Pinnick, Malic White, James Vincent Meredith, Tyler Ross, Matthew Quattrocki
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.