When I first heard about Girlfriends Films’ Conjoined (2013), I was flabbergasted.
Conjoined is the story of two sisters who do everything together, whether they want to or not. As the budding lesbians come into their sexual prime, they discover the difficulties of maintaining relationships and the mechanics of sex with a permanently attached sister. For the first time in their lives, they begin to consider the idea of separation regardless of the risk – love may tear them apart.
And then when I saw this box cover:
(pictured: buy your copy of Conjoined and/or watch it now here)
…I was speechless. Literally, without words.
But this is Girlfriends films!! And just like when I was speechless and then pleasantly surprised by Poor Little Shyla (2011), I should’ve known I was in for something interesting and respectful. Not perfect and definitely not realistic in terms of special effects (conjoined costuming?) or any aspect of the physical mechanics/challenges faced by twins that are actually conjoined, but interesting and respectful in its efforts to raise significant social issues.
To wit, Conjoined is about twins Dina (Mischa Brooks) and Tina (Rilynn Ray), who are joined at the midsection. In my view, one’s enjoyment of this film is contingent upon one’s ability to accept the prosthetic that signifies the twins’ physical arrangement. To put it bluntly: it looks fake as shit.
(pictured: image showcasing Mischa & Rilynn as Dina & Tina from HuffPo)
Anyway, right off we are introduced to the idea that the twins are unique sexual beings. But they are also incredibly close, both mentally and physically, thus their imaginations of their sexual selves overlap. It’s important to note that, at this point in the narrative, neither twin has ever experienced any romantic or sexual contact from another person.
This exploration of the sexuality and romantic-emotional stunting and struggles experienced by folks with extreme physical exceptions is significant. It seems to me like these issues are rarely engaged (in porn and otherwise). I appreciated Conjoined‘s efforts here.
(pictured: the twins fantasize their sexualities as separate, but close)
Then, via the interwebs, Tina becomes involved with Sarah (Chloe Foster). Tina wants to take their romance to the next level, so she arranges a double-date – Tina & Sarah and Dina & Jay (a friend of Sarah’s). Tina and Sarah really hit it off, but Jay and Dina not so much.
And then there’s all this romance and sex – Tina is on the moon!! – all while Dina tries to be a good sister off to the side. This then touches on another real and significant issue: how are loving and sexual relationships navigated by folks who are also negotiating comparable physical circumstances?
(pictured: Tina & Sarah in love, while Dina is under the blanket)
And then things take a twist for the bad, and Tina is shown to be the more emotionally fragile twin. And then things really take a turn for the tragic, as Dina loses her sister for good.
(pictured: Tina is heartbroken)
This film takes a lot of complex twists and turns, thus the vast majority of it’s told via Dina’s voiceover. One especially heartbreaking narrative sequence comes at the very beginning:
There are promises we make in this life, some we keep and some we don’t. I’ve done my best to keep the one I made to my sister the day she died – to never let her go. In my heart, as she once was in my skin, my sister lives. Always.
Conjoined was an ambitious project. It was not an exploration of a “bizarre sexual connection,” as stated by the Huffington Post, nor is this bit of snark justified: “Just when you thought pornographers had covered every conceivable connubial combination comes a sex fantasy that hasn’t yet been immortalized — frisky conjoined twins.” (source)
I appreciated this film’s efforts to explore something we humans very rarely seem to engage: the romantic-emotional and sexuality challenges that face folks with extreme physical exceptions.
With performances from Chloe Foster, Jay Taylor, Mischa Brooks, Odile, Rilynn Rae, and Sinn Sage.
Directed by B. Skow for Girlfriends Films (though not a “SKOW for Girlfriends FIlms” title). Released in November, 2013.
Buy your copy of Conjoined and/or watch it now here.
Extras: just junk mail.
Also, here’s the trailer (NSFW):
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Images used with permission, except the one from HuffPo (which was grabbed from HuffPo here)
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