I’ll Show You Mine  ‘SIFF’ Review – A clear-eyed, radically frank look into sexual exploration and trauma
There is a startling amount of honesty that director Megan Griffiths is immediately able to summon in her film, I’ll Show You Mine. It burrows, deep and unwaveringly, into its themes with such a bracing audacity that initially one feels mildly unprepared for a deep dive of this degree. But once one settles into the groove of detailed discussions, that turn heated and confrontational often, ranging from histories and the effectual reach of traumas, a buried, skirted mutual past of child sexual abuse, to negotiating and staking one’s personal approach to desire and pleasure sans any guilt, there is an easy fluency to the film’s tenor. All of it is fully driven through conversations, working as a two-hander, unfolding mostly in and around the protagonist, Priya’s house, having a certain element of a staged play.
I’ll Show You Mine benefits significantly from a vocabulary of sexual freedom that is constantly in a mode of being reframed, refined, and re-evaluated to varying degrees of introspection and argument through the multiple chapters that the film is divided into. It is through the free-flowing conversations between the author and celebrated feminist, Priya, and Nick, the subject of her book-in-making, who, it turns out, is her nephew. Nick, we are repeatedly told and reaffirmed by Priya, ushered in a radical sexual revolution by the discourse he was able to generate on pansexuality and as a model who could push himself to the utmost risqué, way back in 2012.
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This leads to problematizing, making sense of, and busily dissecting notions and traditional perspectives on body confidence, the messy politics around it, especially the way it engages in traffic with subterranean violence and boundary breaching. These heavy talks are broached with a casualness and levity that is unmistakably refreshing and reverberatingly contemporary, tapping the global moment of deep anxieties around and reckonings with plural sexualities.
The screenplay, credited to three writers, Tiffany Louquet, Elizabeth Searle, and David Shields, is unhesitant, bold, and self-aware, with a hovering need palpable for re-examining and re-questioning its own diverse stances and thoughts. The film keenly realizes this aspect to itself and therefore it’s etching out of liberated ness and getting over deep-rooted guilt and self-loathing which one tries to tiptoe around usually has a fuss-free irreverence that is gradually and powerfully built, reaching climactic revelations that become the dialogue Nick wants and Priya wards off.
Celia Beasley cuts efficiently and briskly, zipping between exchanges that go deeper and deeper as the two start unraveling, their fault lines coming increasingly, often disconcertingly clear. The film could have quickly become a rambling, uninvolving, and trite affair as so much of it is verbose and self-analytical but the smartly considered mix of the swift and the discerning in her editing elevates it to one with a spectacular tautness and sharpness.
Priya misses the cultural impact she once had, while Nick desperately wants the fame he used to enjoy, which has all been lost and therefore crunching his financial resources. Both have fathers with stark manipulative and violent tendencies that scarred their lives. Nick and Priya drew up an agreement to a cultural biography of his former flamboyant model avatar, Nikki, which he has quit to sever the toxicities off his life, linked to his father who viewed the avatar as a lucrative cash cow. Priya is far more inhibited despite her intense, sustained academic probing, and she grapples with her straining attempts to comprehend and take into account that entire Nick’s Nikki, what he perceives as performance art, the plethora of emergent complexities associated with pansexuality.
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When he explains to her that he is interested primarily and firstly in the spirit of the person, gender occupying a secondary priority, she is amused and scoffs in disbelief, unable to take him seriously and acknowledging her inability to, with all frankness. This candor of tone keeps the film confidently striding even when it seems to trip on a repetitive clutch of ideas, circling over the same ground for too long. Nick’s porn cartoon art intersperses the chapter breaks with a note of distinctive sexual playfulness.
Poorna Jagannathan and Casey Thomas Brown, playing the sole two characters in a continually shifting, reconciliatory, and fractious dialogue, have a believable dynamic and Brown especially brings in copious ease and a lovely sense of self-belief. The sexual tension and pertness that he imbues the scenes with is a delight while pushing transgressively against all supposedly permissible structures of kinship that Priya and Nick are connected by. Jagannathan excellently underplays a crucial scene that has her revisiting and compelled to address an enormity of what she describes as the ‘nerve endings of trauma’.
At its heart, Griffiths’ film is about all the baggage that we carry, knowingly or inadvertently, from parents, our past, things that we thought we had dealt with and resolved but threaten a resurfacing at a passing trigger. Griffiths emphasizes the sheer harrowing nature of the process of confrontation and acknowledgement critical to a healthy recovery.
Priya, who describes herself as being cogitating always, yearns for living the world and engaging with it which Nick does in the most unapologetic, brash and gleefully open manner. But she is too trapped in her guardedness about searching within her history the uncomfortable links between pain and pleasure. This is where the film seeks to promise delving into but becomes stunted in the rushed final scenes. I wish Griffiths picks this strand up and pushes the boundaries of her exploration even further and defiantly in her next project.