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'Princess Cyd' (2017)/Written & Directed by Stephen Cone/Grade: A

A Chicago teen visits and bonds with her aunt in this overlooked indie stunner.

Now this one I not only think is criminally overlooked (which it is), but which also has had an immeasurable impact on my life. More specifically, my journey towards coming to terms with my identity. To give background, the story follows Cyd (Jessie Pinnick), who travels to Chicago for a week to visit with her aunt Miranda (Rebecca Spence). While the two initially struggle to connect, they eventually teach other valuable lessons about happiness, fulfillment and life, all while Cyd simultaneously strikes up an unexpected fling with a local barista named Katie (Malic White).

That leads me to what captivated and helped me so much about this picture, which was its very nonchalant, blasé depiction of bisexuality. Cyd has a boyfriend in the movie, but when she realizes she also likes this girl, it is met with zero discrimination, only support and encouragement. She is free to explore this part of herself. As I was still struggling to come to terms with my own fluid sexuality when I watched this for the first time, it was such a relief to see it portrayed in that manner, which made me feel like, maybe there isn't anything wrong with me after all. Some time after seeing it, I reached out to writer/director Stephen Cone via Instagram to thank him, to a very warm response. I'll always have this first viewing experience to look back on as a crucial step in in my journey towards self-acceptance.

On top of that, this is just one of my absolute favorite movies for whenever I just want to relax and unwind after a stressful or sad day. It is lushly shot and lit, beautifully acted, astutely directed, and quietly confident in its subtle, observant storytelling and writing. A cinematic slice of life that holds as much sentimental value for me and my life as well as entertainment value. Definitely rent it.

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