New to Netflix this week:
A SECRET LOVE
SXSW 2020 (cancelled)
A portrait of a lesbian couple facing aging and change after six decades together.
Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel met in 1947, beginning a lesbian relationship in a dangerous pre-Stonewall world that necessitated secrecy in public. In private, however, they cultivated a rich social life with other gay people in their home in Chicago, the Canadian couple having relocated there to enable Donahue’s career in the All-American Girls Baseball League – her own A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN story, too briefly touched upon here. Living together through the decades, family members largely accepted that the two women were good friends and roommates, not learning the truth about their love until relatively recently. Filmmaker Chris Bolan, Donahue’s grandnephew, reveals the story of the women’s longstanding relationship against the backdrop of a more contentious development – Bolan’s mother, Diana – Donahue’s favorite and most supportive niece – is on a mission to bring the couple back to Canada to enter an assisted care facility to better handle their health issues, an idea to which Henschel is extremely resistant. This central conflict tellingly reveals the tensions often felt between queer and biological families, though it’s notable that no one here is painted as a villain. Ultimately, Bolan’s film is a sweet, poignant, and affecting tribute to Donahue and Henschel’s enduring love.