Tag Archives: City Island

The (2010) Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name

Lynne Murray says:

Lord Alfred Douglas, famous as the lover of Oscar Wilde, wrote a poem “Two Loves” in 1894, containing the famous sentence:

“I am the Love that dare not speak its name.”

Douglas’s and Wilde’s love was, in fact, illegal in England in their time, and Wilde famously spent time in prison because of those laws.

More than a century later, Susan Koppelman pointed out this link to an April 12, 2010 article by director Raymond de Felitta, describing a controversial subplot in his film City Island, winner of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival audience award. If you don’t want to read “spoilers” about this film, please don’t read further.

This part of the film concerns a young man who has a secret crush on his 400-pound neighbor:

In looking for a secret that the young man can be ashamed to keep, I continually ran up against the “been there seen that” problem: What secrets do today’s youth actually keep? But the existence of the BBW community — its members and their admirers — is still taboo. The notion that men might prefer fat women to thin ones remains disturbing and — to many — not quite believable. But it’s the truth. Witness the many “fat acceptance” Web sites, dating services and photo galleries you will find on the Internet. Indeed the prevalence of these sites and the pride expressed within them might suggest that the whole “fat people are gross” epidemic is as dead and gone as the “gay people are gay because they had a bad experience with the opposite sex” thing. (Something I was shamefully told in my long-ago youth.)

He writes about the search for a super-sized actress to play Denise:

“A totally life-loving, confident, beautiful woman who’s comfortable with herself and just wants to be accepted for who she is. Carrie Baker Reynolds is every one of those things and more. Her love for the role and delight that I even wanted to go to this place where many have not yet ventured, created an incredibly strong and personal bond between us. One that has given her even more confidence than she already has (she really wasn’t in need of much more) but which gave me the greatest gift — that of discovering that what I thought was interesting long ago, in those early frontier days of Internet lurking, was in fact true: the fat acceptance culture is a beautiful, bountiful and entirely necessary thing.

In order to find a picture of Carrie Baker Reynolds I had to search for quite awhile on the net and found this Facebook shot:
Carrie Baker Reynolds' Facebook page

No one goes to prison for loving a fat woman. Shame and ridicule are terrible things, and are nonetheless not a true comparison to being forced to keep secrets or be put in jail. At the same time, the difficulty of finding an image of Reynolds online makes its own statement. And although we have had a lovely bevy of somewhat successful fat actresses in the last few decades, including Kathy Bates, Dawn French, Camryn Manheim, Mo’Nique, Marianne Sagebrecht, and Gabourey Sidibe, it’s still clearly a “strange twilight world” when a fat person is cast as an object of desire.

So I appreciate de Felitta’s words, and his movie is now on my list to see.