Road of Bygones
Drama, 1 h 14 min
A glimpse into the reality of a lesbian D/s relationship and the search for acceptance from those who we adore
One of a kind and deliciously dark
Recluse Films’s Road of Bygones (2019) dir. Astrid Ovalles is a kinky, dark comedy that follows Bobbi (Astrid Ovalles), her sister Sam (Oriana Oppice), and her girlfriend-come-“property” Ally (Sarah Jo), on a road trip to retrieve their mother’s ashes. While this film is immediately much more abstract than its predecessor, Camp Belvedere (2014), there is something special in the way this film explores sex and trauma through an inherently lesbian lens.
At first, the chaotic BDSM in Road of Bygones made me draw comparisons to Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy (2014), but as the film progressed I felt there was something truly distinctive in Ovalles’ filmmaking. Of course, Ovalles’ performance as Bobbi is completely captivating and overwhelmingly charismatic, but as a writer/director she combines brutally dark humour, transgressive sex, and elements of slow cinema in honest and personal conversational dialogue, to create a queer representation like no other.
While I do believe a great deal of praise is deserved in Road of Bygones’s represention of a sub/dom lesbian couple, I worry that the way the film interweaves sex and trauma leaves this representation open to criticism. The lack of stability in hand with the how little this kind of relationship is presented in cinema could reflect directly onto how lesbian sub/dom relationships are perceived. However, it is undeniable that this film stands out as something incredibly unique. For fans of Camp Belvidere, I would prepare yourselves for a very different kind of film, and I would argue that Road of Bygones is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. That being said, this film feels extraordinarily rare and important, and just like me, you’ll find yourself already buzzing in anticipation for whatever Recluse Films has in the future.
One of a kind and deliciously dark, Road of Bygones will have you falling in love with Astrid Ovalles all over again.