It’s been nine years since we last heard from the proudly white trash characters in the Sordid Lives universe. After Sordid Lives become a cult LGBT hit in 2000, resonating particularly strongly in America’s southern gay community, the cast reconvened for a spin-off TV series in 2008- but since then, it’s been all silent on the sordid front. I have to confess, A Very Sordid Wedding is my first experience of these characters and the defiantly trashy world they inhabit- but once I was acclimatised to the endearingly odd mix of heartfelt social issues drama and defiantly bitchy raunch comedy, I felt compelled to explore the past entries in this most unlikely of franchises.
Taking place in a small Texas town, A Very Sordid Wedding is set less than a month after marriage equality becomes the law of the land across the USA. As the small town church prepares to hold an anti-equality rally, Latrell (Bonnie Bedelia), the mother of a recently married gay son, takes it in to her own hands to protest this backward event. Meanwhile, an ageing, aspiring drag queen (Leslie Jordan) is kidnapped by a serial killer on the run- and things get strange pretty fast.
The film acts primarily as fan service, doing very little to introduce new viewers to these characters. With a sprawling ensemble cast introduced without any exposition whatsoever, it may initially feel like turning up late to a party and finding everybody has started their own drunken in-jokes to some viewers. After all, without prior knowledge of the significance of each character, it is very hard to decipher exactly why a film dealing with conservative attitudes to marriage equality lends a sizeable portion of its running time to the escapades of a bisexual necrophiliac serial killer who has held one of the main characters hostage (yes, really).
It’s essentially like John Waters decided to direct a joyously tasteless remake of Fried Green Tomatoes – and it makes a refreshing change of pace from the overtly preachy film I was expecting, given the subject matter. Director Del Shores knows his audience already have relaxed attitudes to gay people, so goes out of his way to make the surreal humour outside the margins of the main narrative as memorable as the equality sermon up front. Sure, there are speeches to religious characters informing them of the contradictions of their beliefs when it comes to homosexuality, but they are complimented by black comic laughs that are the polar opposite to the “love is love” mentality.
This approach feels more genuine than focusing solely on the topic- although having not seen the previous entries, it could be the case that more specific issues regarding equality in a religious community isn’t focused on extensively due to that ground having already been covered. Here, the issues are portrayed in a broad manner; important for the overarching storyline, but not to an extent that distracts from the delightful bitchiness present elsewhere.
Although far from the sordid affair the title suggests, this joyously camp film is a definite guilty pleasure that will be a flat out triumph to returning fans- and an enjoyably trashy time for newcomers to the franchise.
Read our interview with Del Shores
All pictures reproduced courtesy of Del Shores