The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love is probably not a film that may be on the tip of everyone’s tongues in the modern pop culture landscape, but that’s no comment on the quality of the project itself. Despite 1995 film getting a theatrical release from New Line Cinema’s arthouse division (Fine Line Pictures) and doing solid box office numbers, it hasn’t been a staple on modern home video formats nor has it been regularly utilized in recent years by its parent company. But there is lots to love in this directorial effort from Maria Maggenti, including the simple fact that its story quietly conveys the truth that queer women are everywhere.
This element of the story comes into play from the backdrop of Two Girls in Love. Specifically, this is a motion picture that takes place in a rural area in an unspecified part of the United States of America. The concept of plopping troubled lesbians into non-urban environments isn’t exclusive to this film (Donna Deitch went into similar territory with her landmark film Desert Hearts), but it isn’t the common route for American stories about queer girls. Typically, such stories are told in cities, places that are emphasized as havens for LGBTQIA+ individuals looking for tolerant places to call home.
Those stories have plenty of value too, but queer people can exist anywhere, and so should cinematic stories about those individuals. Thus, The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love firmly plants itself in a small Southern town, one where “Randy” Dean (Laurel Holloman) not only exists but is openly a lesbian at her high school. She lives with her two moms who also make no secret about their sexual orientation, to boot. Dean and her best friend Frank still have to deal with intolerant views from her classmates, but the concept of queer people just existing in these locales is treated as a natural thing right from the get-go in Two Girls in Love.
It’s also worth noting that this core idea of queer women being able to exist anywhere is reinforced through Maggenti’s screenplay refusing to assign a specific name to where Dean and her crush Evie (Nicole Ari Paker) call home. The generalized nature of this backdrop has a wide range of advantages, including emphasizing that the focus of the story is to linger on the titular ladies. However, it also suggests that this could be any part of the U.S. with more barns than skyscrapers. Rather than boxing the normalized widespread nature of queer women to being just limited to one Texas or Arizona town, Two Girls in Love is suggesting that this romantic tale could happen anywhere.
While the specific city this movie takes place in is more nebulously defined, Maggenti wrings the rural setting for unique backdrops that ensure Two Girls in Love has its fair share of distinctive imagery. Rather than holding hands on a Ferris wheel or a train, Dean and Evie bond lying together in the grass or just outside a rusty gas station that the former character works at. These locations are intentionally framed in a throwaway manner, they lack the glossiness or bright colors that someone like Pedro Almodovar may lend to scenes depicting queer romance.
Leaning into the naturalistic flaws of these environments, though, makes the world that Maggenti has crafted feel all the more authentic. It’s like you could wander into this town on any road trip through Oklahoma. Thus, these unspoken details allow Two Girls in Love to reinforce its central concept during even the most relaxed of exchanges between its lead characters. The variety of economic classes seen in this small town also conveys the universal presence of queer women. Whether it’s the upper-crust neighborhood Evie calls home or the more rustic crowded house Dean resides in, every part of this town is bound to contain queer women.
It’s also worth mentioning that one of our leads here, Evie, is Black, a marginalized group that’s rarely seen in the spotlight in movies depicting rural America. Many high-profile features like Hillbilly Elegy don’t go out of their way to recognize the Black communities that do exist in rural parts of this country. By contrast, Two Girls in Love is cognizant of this reality and uses Evie’s presence to further expand just how omnipresent queer women are.
Even the film’s ending uses locations to communicate this crucial concept. The finale takes place in a run-down hotel room where Dean and Evie are hiding out. Important figures from both of their lives are banging down the door, wanting an explanation about their relationship and recent behavior. Eventually, the duo decides to open the door together, after which they embrace and find themselves so entranced in one another’s company that the bellowing judgments from parents, friends, and school peers all go silent.
In the years since its release, Maggenti has commented in interviews how viewers have taken this conclusion to be a variation on traditional romantic drama endings, with the unique twist being that it’s a queer couple at the center of such a familiar conclusion. Whether intentional or not, the parallels here mean that the finale of Two Girls in Love can translate its commitment to showing the universal presence of queer women into a new form. Previously, this universality was reflected on a literal geographical scale to show that these members of the LGBTQIA+ community can exist anywhere in the United States.
Now, Maggenti is taking the hallmarks of romantic drama and utilizing them to demonstrate that queer women can also exist in any film genre. Often relegated to being the butt of jokes if they’re even recognized as existing at all in the domain of mainstream romantic dramas, the final moments of Two Girls in Love twists conventions on its head and reaffirm how queer women perspectives can go anywhere in art. While the focus in the film itself remains on Dean and Evie reciting a poem to one another in voiceover while physically embracing, on a screenwriting level, Maggenti is taking the thesis of this motion picture to new places.
In the years since The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love hit theaters, progress has been slow on living up to this movie’s idea, both in the United States and in cinematic narratives. Only a handful of motion pictures (like Alice Wu’s 2020 feature The Half of It) have explored queer women existing in rural spaces. A similarly meager amount of major movies have also taken the initiative to take queer women and place them into genres that usually erase such figures.
At least The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love still exists and is now even more accessible than ever before thanks to its recent emergence on the Criterion Channel streaming service. Hopefully, a new generation of viewers, especially queer women, can have a chance to be entertained by a story that quietly communicates the truth about how queer ladies are everywhere.