With host Carey Mulligan making her Saturday Night Live hosting debut last night, the noted actress’ long and acclaimed career of getting dressed up in era-specific garb and being very intense and serious was going to come up. And while the Oscar-nominated Promising Young Woman star did her best to show everyone she can be goofy, too, her best outing of the night saw her once more donning some obscuring nightwear and the occasional bonnet in a trailer for future Oscar bait, Lesbian Period Drama.
Being both the film’s name and its sole reason for existing, Lesbian Period Drama saw Mulligan’s “bummer” of a 19th century British wife being dropped off at one of those rocky, windswept oceanside sanatoria where go all period wives who find themselves inexplicably unaroused by either their dour husbands or the prospect of dying in childbirth. Luckily, if languorously, Mulligan’s pent-up passion is ever so incrementally aroused by Heidi Gardner’s equally repressed, depressed, and suppressed fellow inhabitant, as the two exchange approximately 12 lines of hushed dialogue over two-and-a-half hours, tentatively brush fingers over the soup course, and occasionally have their picturesquely composed scenes stolen by “Best Supporting Actress nominee—the wind.”
Thankfully, all the whispered almost-contact is livened up when the two so-brave straight actresses (who don’t wear makeup or anything) are visited by Kate McKinnon, as “the one actual lesbian actress” in the film, playing Gardner’s “stone cold ex.” (Her tuxedo-clad woman confides that she dumped the glum Gardner even though, “there’s not another lesbian for five whole countries.”) In the tradition of award-luring prestige dramas everywhere, the exquisitely shot fake trailer hits all the beats expected from the next Ammonite, with all the glance choreography, suggestive root vegetable-stroking, and one, final, startlingly explicit, male gaze-satisfying headboard-smasher of a sex scene that implies. (The trailer notes that, traditionally such films are directed by dudes, although it also name-checks director Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, for some reason.) McKinnon’s ex, watching the overwhelmingly pixilated blob of the actresses’ long-delayed and acrobatically graphic coupling, can only note with amusement, “Hey gals, it’s 1840. I don’t think this has been invented yet.”