Review: 'Sympathy Card' a Multifaceted Love Story

by Noe Kamelamela

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday April 1, 2022

'The Sympathy Card'
'The Sympathy Card'  

As a Bostonian, "The Sympathy Card" holds a lot of fun treats for me. It is a recent time capsule for the area, with real-life cool spots such as the Inman Oasis and the Garment District, and features quite a few local talents, including Mal Malme, Catherine Capozzi, Kristen Porter, Gene Dante, and Wes Hazard. As someone who believes in crowdfunding, I take note that the project raised some money via the online platform Seed & Spark, as well as via producers that believe in the project. The multi-faceted love story between two lesbian-identified women offers humor and insight when it comes to unconventional romance.

The meet terrible between anxiety-ridden Josie and laid-back smoker Emma provides the beginning to a love story that spans the entire film. Although they have a picture perfect relationship and marriage, Emma struggles with her terminal cancer diagnosis and pushes Josie away, insisting that Josie needs to find a new partner before Emma can pass away. While in some ways it is a sweet gesture, it adds complications to their lives that forces them both to push their own boundaries in order to add an elusive third. Josie, never the studliest or sluttiest woman to begin with, struggles in the dating scene.

A metaphor for dating is a card game. You lay out different cards that symbolize what you have to offer as a partner, and people can decide on you versus the other folks who are playing. "The Sympathy Card" is a tricky and powerful card to play. On the one hand, you can keep that stuff to yourself, but on the other hand, especially in Josie's case, she feels obligated to tell people the truth and to be honest about how much she loves her dying wife. Also, she's not that great at dating. All of this makes perfect sense.

Honestly, "The Sympathy Card" captures well the fun kind of awkwardness Bostonians can embody, that either we are strangely standoffish or extremely matter of fact. Dating is mostly false starts or failures to launch, since expectations are rarely detailed, and both Josie and Emma feel frustrated, though for different reasons. While the sex scenes are hot, they are also not very explicit, which is quintessentially New England. I feel that a teenager could watch this movie and it would be age appropriate. There are hints of whimsy and play that are not purely sexual, and conversations relating to sexuality and shame that should be shared with folks of all sexualities and genders.

Noe Kamelamela is a reader who reads everything and a writer who writes very little.