Review: 'My Fiona' a Reflection on Friendship With Sweet Realism

by Roger Walker-Dack

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday October 14, 2021

'My Fiona'
'My Fiona'  

Is there ever a good time to sit down and watch a movie whose description begins with the words, "Following the death of her best friend..."? Turns out there is. For us it was on a beautiful, blue sky Saturday morning in an empty city after a few weeks of self-distancing. We were really starting to miss our friends.

Jane (Jeanetta Maus) and Fiona (Sara Amini) are besties. They work together in their own start-up; they met their partners together. When Fiona commits suicide without warning and without a goodbye note, Jane, her wife, her mother, her therapist, and her son are all left trying to find an answer as to why it happened.

The movie starts with the suicide and the funeral. Fiona has requested cremation, but her Jewish mother insists on the tradition of burial, so there is an empty grave. Ruth, Fiona's mother, asks Jane, "Do you know how much it costs to have an empty casket?" and at a loss of what is expected from her reply, Jane says "I don't know what the right answer is." This, more than anything else summarizes the theme of the movie.

Jane holds on to the memory of her friend by becoming the babysitter of Fiona's son, Bailey (Elohim Nycalove), who is escaping into his own imaginary world. Jane tries to connect to him through play. His other mother, Gemma (Corbin Reid), throws herself into her work, refusing to let her colleagues and competitors see a hint of weakness in her performance. Jane and Gemma see little pieces of the Fiona they miss in each other, and eventually moments of mutual comfort turn into acts of shared love.

Inevitably, everyone questions their own motives. Are they acting out of love or loss? Are they betraying the person they have lost, or trying to hold on to them? It becomes apparent that there is no single answer to this, just as there is no answer to why Fiona killed herself. There are only the questions crying in the air.

Was it due to Fiona's worry of letting other people down? Was it due to the pressure of another pregnancy? Or an adverse reaction to medication? Did Fiona have secrets that were never told? By never reaching a conclusive answer, writer-director Kelly Walker achieves a sweet realism despite the film's potential soapiness. Walker doesn't resort to histrionics or overplay emotional cues. The avoidance of dramatic climaxes also reinforces a sense of an unfulfilled yearning to get closure. There can never be one.

In our time of self-isolation, a moment of reflection on our friendships is as inevitable as it is invaluable. If you are in the mood to explore these questions without necessarily getting all the answers forced on you, this movie is tender without being too raw.

"My Fiona" screens at Seattle Queer Film Festival

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.