FIRE ISLAND is a hilarious exposé on gay culture, a two-hour-long examination of chosen family and division within the queer community, roused by a musical accompaniment from queer icons like MUNA, Charli XCX, and Perfume Genius.
Asian-American writer Joel Kim Booster and director Andrew Ahn use Fire Island Pines, a popular vacation spot off the coast of New York state, as a microcosm of the queer community: love-driven chaos, racial discrimination, fatphobia, and unbreakable trauma bonds. Although officially a resort community known for its wild parties, Fire Island stands throughout the movie as a bastion of exclusivity and superiority, one which the film’s protagonists work tirelessly to assimilate into. In an interview with IndieWire, Booster poses the question: “What happens when gay men are put together on an island, and there are no straight people to oppress us? How do we oppress each other?”
The story, inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, follows a rag-tag collection of queer outcasts navigating love, life, and intersectionality. As the film opens, Howie (Bowen Yang) serves as the best friend to protagonist Noah (Joel Kim Booster) and knows his role well. As a gay man without a six-pack sculpted body and white skin, Howie has given up entirely on finding love in the madness that is queer dating. Produced, written, and directed entirely by Asian-Americans and featuring several Black and Asian people amongst its main cast of characters, FIRE ISLAND effectively communicates the anxieties and insecurities that follow many queer people of color. The feelings of inadequacy that Yang confronts are heart-breakingly familiar, but these ideas are often ignored in the film industry at large.
Representation is often limited to white, cisgender gay men, and the nuances of intersectionality are lost to such narratives as LOVE, SIMON or CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. However, FIRE ISLAND features a cast of various identities that better reflect the modern world and include humorous, fresh perspectives on age-old questions about romance and friendship. Powerful ensemble performances from Margaret Cho and Conrad Ricamora help solidify the film’s central message: queer chosen family is volatile, but ultimately, indestructible.
Hit the rainbow resorts of New York and experience FIRE ISLAND now on Hulu.