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When young Czech refugee Tasha (rising star Chloe Sirene), comes into the life of working-class British housewife Helen (TV star Pauline McLynn) they are instantly drawn to one another—finding connection and unexpected passion. While Helen endures her bigoted husband Paul (legendary British actor Paul McGann) and wild teenage daughter Kelly (bad-ass Tamzin Dunstone) Tasha and her mother (the amazing Rula Lenska) await their British passports and deal with the pervasive immigrant-bashing that surrounds them (“Gypo” is a racist British epithet for Gypsy/Roma-Sinti people and refugees).
The film’s entire cast give tremendous performances as the story unfolds from three perspectives, ala Kurosawa’s classic, Rashomon. With a distinctive, atmospheric aesthetic and filmed in Lars von Trier’s Dogme95 style (hand-held camera, location shooting, no special lighting, etc.), Gypo is the first certified lesbian themed Dogme film.
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Top Customer Reviews
This film is not pretty, and not obviously feel-good - although you may feel relieved it's not your life, even grateful for the one you have, by comparison.
It is also a craftily worked story with credible characters and a thrilling conclusion. It was not as predictable as I expected, more complex, multi-dimensional as social commentary and individual experience.
Common-experience episodes from a few days, a week, maybe two weeks, are revealed from the perspectives of three characters as they crash into or connect with one another - an innovative reworking of the the clichéd triangle. A synopsis hints at a romantic attraction between two women, and this was what I was most interested in. However, the overall tone is not romantic, and I doubt you'll feel sweet with your significant other after this viewing. Of the ugly bits, the most stand-out for me is a brutal marital-bed scene in the first character's story, which may have many viewers wondering why they're sitting through the film and what they're in for. In the moment is it difficult not to react to this jarring violence as a superfluous outrage, but to my mind it fits and is resolved as the story develops.
Would I watch "Gypo" again? Yes. Realistic doesn't equal cynical. I found "Gypo" sophisticated, disturbing and tantalising by turns, with a surprisingly exhilarating finale.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A word about Dogma 95 films: originally formed by four Danish directors in 1995 with the premise of 'purifying filmmaking by refusing expensive and spectacular special effects, post production modification and other gimmicks to focus on the actual story and on actors' performances', there have been to date 84 Dogma films, the most celebrated being the Danish FESTEN (The Celebration). A Dogma film must be, among other things, filmed in color on location without extraneous light using a hand held camera without optical filters, have no music added postproduction, and the director must not be credited! GYPO fulfills all of these restrictions and despite the fact that this title page on Amazon names the 'director' as Jan Dunn, she is actually the writer and facilitator of the film.
The setting is England in contemporary times, the film is divided into three sections each of which tells the same story but from three different character's vantage. In HELEN we meet a family: the mother Helen (Pauline McLynn) is a somewhat hyper and distracted 'early grandmother' as her self-centered daughter Kelly (Tamzin Dunstone) has left her 'unwanted brat' infant in Helen's care despite the fact that Helen works nights in a supermarket and has one evening of freedom when she attends an art class; the father Paul (Paul McGann) who wades through the angst of life, not caring for his wife, hating immigrants who are flooding the island of England stealing jobs, and visiting prostitutes on the little money he makes laying carpets; wildly uncontrollable and angry daughter Kelly (Tamzin Dunstone) who is still without work to support her child and family; and son Darren (Tom Stuart) who looks on as his family is in shambles. Kelly brings home a friend Tasha (Chloe Sirene), an attractive sweet girl who has immigrated with her mother Irina (Rula Lenska) from the Czech Republic to escape the brutality of their husbands. Kelly gives Helen attention and kindness while enduring the brutal prejudices of Paul: her impact on the household is palpable. Helen's responses to her sad living situation is seen in a confrontation with Paul, told as she sees it.
In the second stage, PAUL, we see the same story from Paul's eyes - how he hates foreigners yet hires a street laborer from Iraq to help him lay carpet, paying but a pittance, and spending his time away from home mooching drinks and hiring prostitutes. The strain between Paul and Helen at home is explained in his thoughts and actions.
In the third vignette TASHA we learn more about Tasha's sad life, living with her mother in a trailer house with locked doors, fearful of their husbands' arriving to take them back to the Czech Republic, and basing all of their hopes on receiving passports making them British citizens. In this version we see Tasha's love for Helen physically revealed and how this intensely close bonding affects the near tragic results of Tasha's and Irina's lives. The ending is one of the most inspirational moments of revealing self-sacrifice and the human indomitable spirit on film.
Although the film is apparently unscripted (the writer sets the scene story and the actors spontaneously come up with the dialogue), the story (and obvious direction!) by Jan Dunn is phenomenally powerful in its apparent simplicity. The entire cast is superb, with special mention due Pauline McLynn, Chloe Sirene, Paul McGann, and Rula Lenska. The remainder of the cast, composed of both trained actors and untrained locals, give compelling performances. But the power of this film is the method in which the problem of immigration issues bring into focus prejudicial abuse and cruelly labeling people as types from strange places rather than accepting them as individuals with human souls. The film leaves the viewer breathless: it is just that powerful. For this viewer it is one of the finer films of recent years. Grady Harp, January 07
Helen and Tasha's friendship grows closer as they sympathize with each other's situation. Tasha and her mother (Rula Lenska) have escaped Czechoslovakia and the oppression of her father and husband's grasp and are now awaiting their British citizenship. When Tasha makes advances towards her, Helen is initially shocked but soon responds enthusiastically. Just when their romance is blooming, Tasha's husband catches up to them, forcing Tasha and her mother to return to Czechoslovakia. Helen then races against time to catch up to Tasha and free her for
Written and directed by Jan Dunn, this independent film chronicles the breakdown of a middle class family and the awakening of one woman to the pleasures of lesbian love. The story itself is revealed in three segments, through the eyes of Helen, her husband Paul and Tasha
Pauline McLynn, known mainly for her comedic work (Father Ted, Jam & Jerusalem) is fantastic as desperate housewife Helen trying to better herself while being inhibited at every turn by her resentful husband. Chloe Sirene is sexy and sweet as Czech immigrant Tasha as she struggles
to leave her past behind and start a new life in England.
Author of the 2013 Lesbian Film Guide