AWOL, a lesbian love story set in an economically depressed area of Northeast Pennsylvania, stars Lola Kirke and Breeda Wool as two women who face harsh financial realities that circumscribe their relationship. Kirke plays Joey, a young woman with a good heart but few options, who falls head over heels in love with Rayna (Wool), a young woman who lives in a trailer and is stuck in a loveless marriage with her usually absent trucker husband (Bill Sage).
With no economic prospects in her rural town, Joey, who’s scooping ice cream cones for a living at the beginning of the film, enlists in the army after being pushed by her mother (Dale Soules), who wants to get her daughter away from the married Rayna. It’s an interesting sign of the times that Joey’s less concerned about her daughter being gay than her being involved with a woman she thinks is “trash.” But Joey pines for her lover and before deploying back overseas, the two young women, along with Rayna’s young daughters, flee to Canada with few concrete plans except to try to make a life together.
AWOL premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival Friday evening at the SVA Theater in Chelsea, with the stars attending to promote the film, which began production three years ago before the careers of the two stars took off.
Directed by Deb Shoval, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Karolina Waclawiak, the film initially was shot as a short. After winning awards at Sundance in 2011, the filmmaker began developing it as a feature film in 2012. In introductory remarks before the screening, Shoval noted how fortunate she was that the film’s stars were committed to getting the film made.
Since then, Wool appeared in the television series “UnReal” and is in pre-production for the much buzzed about “Vice Principals,” starring Danny McBride and Walton Goggins, set to air next year. Kirke has received accolades for Noam Baumbach’s “Mistress America” and Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle,” and is soon to appear in the Tom Cruise CIA spy thriller “Mena,” directed by Doug Liman.
Breeda Wool on the Beautiful Lesbian Tale AWOL
On the red carpet at the film’s premiere, I asked Wool what appealed to her about playing Rayna and how she got into the role.
“Understanding the situation of a lot of women in rural areas that have a certain inability to change their lives for the better is a very big theme of this film, about the role that I play,” Wool told me. “I play a woman abandoned by society and abandoned by my family, abandoned by any type of economic stability and my community. And I’m living on the outskirts of culture and have sustained a life of abuse. I meet this beautiful young Lola Kirke, and she teaches me about love in terms of value. She loves me for who I am and doesn’t hyper-sexualize me. I’m not accustomed to that type of love, so it’s a beautiful tale.”
Wool added, “It’s a magical thing to take a little perspective vacation, especially when it’s a perspective that is not very hopeful.”