In the U.K. of the late eighties, it was not OK to be openly gay, so closeted high-school teacher Jean (McEwen) keeps her relationship with the butchy Viv (Hayes) a safe distance from her work life. But when her troubled student Lois (Halliday) drops in on the gay club where Jean and Viv hang out, the wall separating Jean’s two worlds starts to crumble, and Jean’s well-ordered life with it.
Oakley’s slow-burn drama plays almost like a thriller, as we feel Jean’s tension at having to hide her sexual identity, one she’s not fully comfortable with herself. At the same time, she fully recognizes the consequences if she’s outed. Beyond McEwen’s luminous performance (you can’t take your eyes off her), the film skillfully recreates the stifling feeling of the time, with evocative set design and video excerpts from the Thatcher era. Halliday also scores as Lois, who’s bullied for being “different.” Forgive the corny pun in the title and catch this BAFTA-nominated film, which is anything but.