Inside Out 2016 Review: Hurricane Bianca
Campy comedies have long been a part of the LGBT film landscape. Often used as an antidote to the more serious stories that have permeated the community’s history, they pay homage to the sassy, flamboyant nature that developed to counteract the intolerance and oppression. This year’s addition comes from Matt Kugelman and his film Hurricane Bianca, starring Rupaul’s Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio. It’s a fish-out-of water story that is silly and loads of fun, and teaches us there’s no reason to fear the things we don’t understand.
Richard (Roy Haylock) is a struggling New York City teacher with nothing to show for the past eleven years he’s put into his career. When he’s offered a job in small-town Texas, he decides to seize the opportunity despite it being a less-than-welcoming area. Within days of him starting the job, the faculty at his new school discovers that he is gay and he is promptly fired. Desperate and lonely, Richard befriends a woman named Karma who shows him there’s a community for him if he looks hard enough. A drunken night out a drag bar gives birth to Richard’s new persona, Bianca Del Rio. Determined to fight for his job, Bianca shows up at the school as the new Science teacher and, using her sharp tongue, straightens the students up and teaches them how to better themselves by working hard. In the process, she changes minds and attitudes of those around her.
Bianca Del Rio was one of the most popular winners on Rupaul’s Drag Race so it’s only natural she translates that charisma into film. Filled with her trademark brand of observational and sarcastic humour, the film is at its best when Bianca is afforded the opportunity to dish it out to the other characters in the story. It’s what fans love and have come to expect from her and these are the funniest moments.
Other areas of the film are unfortunately not as successful, in particular the beginning scenes that introduce us to Richard and his life. At times the story feels rushed and incomplete, lacking the development to really settle the audience into this world. Ultimately though, these flaws don’t really matter as this film is purely designed to be reflective of Bianca’s personality, and to just be a fun, light-hearted couple of hours. It doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should the audience.
The underlying messages of tolerance, self-expression, finding yourself, and dispelling fear run throughout the story. The film aims to teach that just because you may not understand something, that doesn’t mean you should fear and ostracize it. We tend to become afraid of the things that are outside our comfort zone and this happens regularly in small towns everywhere. In these places, outside influences are not as common so progress is a slow march. Hurricane Bianca shows that when you find yourself and are true to who you really are, you can be an inspiration to those who need it and change the lives of those around you. It’s a crucial lesson we should all strive to remember.