A romantic courtship with a Supreme Court connection.
by Gregg Shapiro
Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer, the subjects of Susan Muska & Gréta Ólafsdóttir’s 2010 doc Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, hold hands while affectionately making comments about the projected images of a 1960s slide show. Edie gets things started by recounting how in 1962 that she “couldn’t take it anymore” and called a friend to find out where it was that the lesbians socialized. On that night, at Portofino’s Restaurant, Edie and Thea met, danced together (as Thea puts it, their “bodies fit”), and eventually became a couple.
Edie & Thea is a beautifully rendered story of dancing and romancing, paralleling the couple’s own coming-out stories with that of the LGBT community. The journey of Edie (from Philadelphia) and Thea (from Amsterdam) over the course of their more than forty-year romantic partnership is uplifting and wondrous. Each woman’s personal story of family and coming out, combined with the couple’s extended courtship and eventual partnership, is utterly absorbing.
Additionally, Thea’s longtime battle with multiple sclerosis (she died in 2009) figures prominently in their shared tale. Edie and Thea’s longtime-in-the-making wedding, which took place in Toronto in 2007, is the doc’s emotional peak.
A substantial argument for same-sex marriage if ever there was one, Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement is an engaging and important cinematic work. The timing couldn’t be better for watching this remarkable film—Edie, now a widow at 83, will be testifying before the Supreme Court regarding the more than $300,000 in federal estate taxes she was forced to pay because, under federal law, their same-sex marriage is not recognized.
DVD bonus material includes Edie on the film-festival circuit with directors Muska and Ólafsdóttir, and a variety of featurettes.
Breaking Glass Pictures (breakingglasspictures.com).
Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.