A Million Happy Nows (MiFo Film Festival)
"A Million Happy Nows" is one of those glorious no-holds-barred melodramas that Hollywood would have termed as a "women's picture" in the good old days. It still is, in a sense, but for entirely different reasons: This time the romantic pair at the center of this wonderful and sad tale are lesbians.
It is the story of Daytime Emmy-winning actress Lainey Allen (Crystal Chappell), who has been a soap opera star for the past twenty years. She is starting to worry that the producers are cutting her story lines, so she chooses not to renew her contract when it expires. There is another reason for her to choosing early retirement at 49, but she is keeping that to herself for the moment.
She and her younger partner (Jessica Leccia), who also acts as her publicist, move to a glorious beach house overlooking a quieter part of the California Coast. Initially, Lainey has trouble winding down, as any ex-workaholic would, and as she tries to adjust to a leisurely life, she gets somewhat irritated when she forgets the most mundane things -- so much so that Eva insists she goes to the doctor (Robert Gant) to have a check up. That is where they are told that she has the hereditary gene for early onset Alzheimers.
Lainey has always had known about this possibility, and the fact that she has chosen never to mention it during her 10 years with Eva is the reason for their first fight. As Lainey's mood swings get more extreme, she varies from being optimistic to downright pessimistic, all while forbidding Eva to share the news with anyone. There comes the point, however, when her diagnosis is impossible to hide, and the pressure on the two women's relationship is nearly unbearable.
Even though there can be no surprises as to the outcome of this story, the journey these two take together is told beautifully, and with such compassion that it makes for compelling viewing. There is enormous chemistry between Chappell (a Daytime Emmy Award Winner) and Leica. Both actresses are veteran soap opera stars, and they actually played a lesbian couple in T.V.'s "Guiding Light" drama for some years. Their convincing performances as two lovers watching the inevitable loss of their relationship makes this movie the sheer joy that it is.
Directed by Albert Alarr from a script written by Marisa Calin, this is one melodrama that cannot fail to make you go through at least two boxes of Kleenex. You will not just be weeping for the loss of a loved one, but also for the one left and living alone.