There is something special about sitting inside the Texas State History Museum and watching two women, one Mexican-American and one Pakistani-American, fall in love. Even with the giant Texas star hanging above the screen, it’s nice to get lost in a film set around Chicago’s lesbian lucha libre scene. It’s hard not to smirk as you leave the theater, walking past the enormous «God Bless Texas» etched into the stone wall, remembering the beautifully complex stories you just watched of immigrant mothers doing their best to support their daughters, in a film that flowed seamlessly between English, Spanish and, Urdu.
Signature Move, directed by Jennifer Reeder and shown at the Bullock Theater’s Femme Film Fridays series, follows bookstore owner Alma (Sari Sanchez) and immigration lawyer Zayneb (Fawzia Mirza, who also co-wrote the film with Lisa Donato) as their casual relationship turns into something more. Zayneb’s charming awkwardness turns into outright lying as she fears upsetting her traditional mother, who has barely left the house since her husband’s death. Alma, who normally sticks to one-night stands in order to avoid heartbreak, struggles with the fact that she really cares about this person and their relationship. Both protagonists don luchadora masks (Alma as a fan, Zayneb as a participant), allowing them to both be who they want to be and hide the parts of them that they aren’t yet ready to show the world.
As endearing as the relationship between Zayneb and Alma is, their interactions with their mothers steal the spotlight. Parveen (Shabana Azmi) and Rosa (Charin Alvarez) both have tender moments with their daughters that show how mothers may not have all the answers, but will always have something to say. Signature Move is a relatively lighthearted romantic comedy that can’t help but be political for the mere fact that it exists. As Texas politicians continue to criminalize and terrorize immigrants, watching this love story a few blocks from the Capitol took on extra meaning.
PS: Signature Move was preceded by B.B. Araya’s short film We Are Sisters, part of the We Are film series. It was great and you should also check it and the rest of the series out on YouTube!