Georgia Oakley’s subtle but powerful debut Blue Jean takes us to Margaret Thatcher-led 1980s Great Britain, where societal prejudice forces Jean (Rosy McEwen) to hide her sexuality. The Thatcher government is passing Section 28, which makes it illegal for schools and authorities to “promote homosexuality”. For Jean, this means leading a double life, as her days are spent as a PE teacher at a local school, while at night, she hangs with the local lesbian community or her girlfriend Viv (Kerrie Hayes). When she runs into the school’s new student Lois (Lucy Halliday) at a gay bar, it suddenly gets harder to keep her identity a secret.
The film is held together by Rosy McEwen’s strong performance as the complex and sad-eyed Jean, who is stuck between two worlds in a situation, in which being herself in public is political. Grainy images and symbolic use of colours frame the story. Even though the situation is dire, the film creates hope through depicting the solidarity and warmth shown toward each other by the lesbian community. Winner of the People’s Choice Award at Venice Film Festival’s Giornate degli Autori with her film, Oakley manages to create an authentic 80s Britain onscreen, which is helped by the soundtrack of period-appropriate electropop tunes on the soundtrack.