A little-known indie film is now available to stream on iTunes and VOD, and there are many reasons why it should be on your radar.
“AWOL” commands attention not only because of its subject matter– lesbian and bi-curious women in rural America– but also because of its strong female writer/director at the helm, Deb Shoval. Starring Lola Kirke and Breeda Wool, “AWOL” is a slice of life drama about navigating through the choppy waters of a budding relationship and the determination to come out from the other side unscathed, or at least as gently as possible.
Joey (Kirke) sits with her mother at an Army recruitment center, entertaining the thought of signing up to escape the small town she currently resides in. When she’s not working the ice cream stand at the town’s local carnival, she is working other odd jobs like tending to farm animals. Her only distraction from the daily monotony of her life is the evolving relationship with Rayna (Wool), an outgoing bad girl-type with baggage. Rayna is married to a man who acts more like a deadbeat husband than an equal partner, multiple children, and no desire to leave their small town. However, she proves to be a positive influence when she gets Joey to follow through on signing up for the Army.
[Shoval] creates a love story that is wrapped up in euphoria, confusion, and heartache all at once and portrays a pretty accurate depiction of messy love.
Joey joins the Army and uses her mechanical skills to focus on fixing cars and tanks. Despite the distraction, she can’t let go of the love she has back home with Rayna. That love is reciprocated and consummated many times when Joey returns home for a quick break before deploying to Afghanistan. Confused on whether to follow her head or her heart, Joey thinks about abandoning her contract with the Army to run away with her lover and her two children to start a new life. Joey believes that with love, anything is possible, but little does she know that Rayna may be hiding a dark secret and ulterior motive that could cause Joey’s world to come crashing down.
“AWOL” is director Deb Shoval’s first feature film and it debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. She creates a love story that is wrapped up in euphoria, confusion, and heartache all at once and portrays a pretty accurate depiction of messy love. She gives the protagonist, Lola Kirke, a lot to work with in terms of a dynamic and layered character. Kirke has a tough exterior but knows when to expose her vulnerability. With an infectious laugh and moody singing voice, Kirke embodies the character of Joey with realism and empathy.
At times, “AWOL” feels like watered down mix between “Thelma and Louise” and “Brokeback Mountain,” but it holds a uniqueness all on its own. At its core, “AWOL” is a love story about constricted love in a poverty-stricken town in rural America, and the lengths one goes through to achieve her version of the “American Dream.”
“AWOL” is rated PG-13. 85 minutes. Now streaming on iTunes, Amazon Video, and VOD.