Movie Review: Fire Island (2022) *****

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” -Lizzy from Pride & Prejudice

“Somehow, I’m mad and horny.” -Noah from Fire Island


If I’m in a TV mood and need to itch my P&P urges, I watch the BBC version starring Jennifer Ehle.

If I’m in a movie mood and need to itch my P&P urges, I grab the 2005 one with Kiera Knightley–then fling the DVD straight out the window! Sorry, Tom from Succession, you’re a great Mr. Darcy but I just don’t dig the adaptation.

I’m watching Fire Island, baby!

What I love about Jane Austen books – surely what everyone through the ages has loved about Jane Austen books – is the timelessness of gossip, relationship fuss, class arrogance, and how amazing femmes are. It’s only right to transpose the courtship drama of Pride & Prejudice on a bunch of modern queens as they spend their summer vacation on Fire Island.

Rather than sisters, we have a bunch of bff gay guys who spend every year visiting their fag hag, who is like Mrs. Bennet with all the good parts and none of the bad parts. The sisters’ personalities are flawlessly transposed on each of the friends: a lovely sensitive older sister (Bowen Yang!!!!), the two completely inappropriate little sisters, and the brainy one who thinks you’re all fools for subjecting yourself to toxic beauty standards.

Everything works perfectly compressed into a week. The nation’s gays have converged on Fire Island, a real vacation destination favored by mostly East Coast homos, and everyone’s around for a good dance and snort and suck. By everyone, we mean anyone who can afford it. Fire Island is real fancy and our girls are…not as much. Lesbian Mrs. Bennet is about to lose her house on the island. This is their last summer together. It’s easy to project the precarity of the Bennet economic situation upon our gays teetering on the brink of rich enough for the ultimate gay vacay.

This is their last chance for a big blowout. So Noah and Howie (Lizzy and Jane) seek to get laid, of course. Noah has sworn he shall not hook up until they find someone for Howie. They trip into the companionship of an especially wealthy group of friends. That’s where we meet Jane’s Mr. Bingley (really adorable and clueless in this adaptation) and Lizzy’s Mr. Darcy (the hunkiest robot-man-lawyer who makes dorkiness look cool). Everything you think will happen, happens – this is a great adaptation. It’s just that this version is if Jane Austen took poppers and wrote her book at a sauna.

Look, I don’t know how to tell you that our culture *needed* Queer as Folk mashed up with Pride & Prejudice. But it did. It really did. This is a celebration of femme gays with the textured writing of Joel Kim Booster, who plays Noah, and obviously knows exactly what he’s talking about. The Mr. Wickham scandal is handled with an especially deft modern hand.

There’s a season for all movies. In much the way there are different horror movies for Halloween season versus Valentine’s Day, there are also different romcoms for Valentine’s Day versus summertime. Fire Island belongs on a list of summer rewatches. You can put it on any time you want to recall the smell of sunblock, lube, and salt water, or when you want to feel like you’re watching your gorgeous best friends get up to bitchy nonsense wearing virtually nothing, the way God intended it.

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