[Critique cinéma] “Fire Island”, pride, prejudice and cheerfulness

“It is a universally recognized truth that a bachelor endowed with a good fortune must want to marry. So opens the novel Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. At the beginning of the film Fire Island, we are entitled to this quote, but formulated by a gay man who is more concerned with getting laid with different partners than with pronouncing wishes. From the outset, the irreverent tone is set.

A bit like the genius — yes, yes — clueless (Beverly Hills College Girls), which recontextualized Emma within california teenage wildlife, Fire Island is loosely based on Austen’s second novel. If the main lines are preserved, the equivalences of characters are proposed and the unstoppable acuity of the author’s observations on human nature are reaffirmed, the ingenuity of the transposition allows the film to develop its own identity.

We follow Noah (Joel Kim Booster), a flighty handsome boy who can no longer stand the celibacy of his best friend Howie (Bowen Yang). Howie who, unlike Noah, is an inveterate romantic dreaming of a long-term relationship. But now, on their annual trip to Fire Island, a proud gay stronghold, Noah insists he’ll be sober until Howie gets laid.

Then comes a charming doctor who obviously finds Howie very charming. Soon, alternative and cheerful versions of Darcy, Wickham and company will enter the scene.

Written by Joel Kim Booster, who is otherwise excellent in the lead role, Fire Island proves absolutely irresistible — and often hilarious. With a mixture of reverence and intelligence, the dictates of romantic comedy are both respected and diverted.

Even more interesting: this bias of the film to take up the question of social classes dear to Austen. The observation regarding the inequities and injustices that these generate remains, alas, relevant.

In addition to reproducing the dynamic of penniless sisters Elizabeth and Jane (replaced by Noah and Howie), in love with wealthy gentlemen for love and not for money, Fire Island There is, however, an additional comment regarding another kind of class system present in the gay community, which is not without castes: the Apollos who look down on anyone who does not have bulging abs, the males playing the map of stoic masculinity who turn their noses up at their more extroverted peers, etc. Although, on this level, the film tends to take pleasure in the display of what it claims to criticize…

In full light

Distributed by Disney and produced by Searchlight Pictures, formerly Fox Searchlight, a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, Fire Island cap to the post the film Bros, expected in September, and presented as the “first romantic comedy about two gay men produced by a major studio”, Universal Pictures in this case. You have to believe that someone hasn’t seen Love, Simonoffered in 2018 by 20th Century Fox, well…

Be that as it may, we are delighted that LGBTQ+ stories, until recently the prerogative of independent cinema, now benefit from the resources and visibility of big Hollywood players (the latter, not crazy, are no doubt encouraged by the success series like Sex Education and Heartstopping on Netflix, or Euphoriaon HBO).

To return to Fire Island, the energy deployed in the image and in the action finds a happy echo in a certain bonhomie of tone, with leagues of the serious accounts long privileged in the already mentioned independent cinema. It feels good. Another pleasant surprise is that the film, despite its “Disney-like” pedigree, in no way waters down or flattens the diversity of attitudes and behavior displayed in the gay community. Here and there, scenes occur which, without being explicit, leave little room for the imagination, as well as for a resolutely raw language and humor. We expose ourselves, we explode: there is nothing to hide. In this matter, Fire Island is a film without a closet, and that’s good.

Fire Island (VO and VF)


Romantic comedy by Joel Kim Booster. With Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamora, Margaret Cho, James Scully. USA, 2022, 105 minutes. On Disney+.

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