aGLIFF 2011 (Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival)
By Don Simpson | September 6, 2011
Director: S. Casper Wong
Writer: S. Casper Wong
A hard-drinking, chain-smoking, world-renowned cancer researcher with a tender heart and a mouth like a sailor, Dr. Louise Nutter — a.k.a. LuLu — discovered a new anti-cancer drug right around the same time that she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. The LuLu Sessions‘ writer-director (not to mention producer and cinematographer) S. Casper Wong was on her way to videotape a friend’s wedding in San Francisco when LuLu asked her to accompany her to her biopsy in Minneapolis. As fate would have it, the wedding was canceled and Wong opted to stay in Minneapolis with Lulu.
Turning the camera toward LuLu, Wong documents the last 15 months of LuLu’s life. The camera documents as LuLu receives the dreaded diagnosis from her oncologist — judging by Lulu’s reaction this is not a reenactment. We observe several key moments during LuLu’s treatments, but we also witness the ebbs and flows of Wong’s intense relationship with LuLu. Shooting in the cinema verite tradition, Wong suddenly becomes one of the primary subjects in her own documentary.
Not only does The LuLu Sessions explore the transformations in a person while they anticipate a rapidly approaching death, but Wong’s film also blurs the definition of same sex relationships. LuLu and Wong share emotions that transcend most platonic relationships. Wong shares an intense bond with LuLu, but it remains unclear if their relationship ever becomes sexual. Then again — who cares? Why does our society always need to define people and their relationships?