Blue Jean announces the arrival of a major talent in writer/director Georgia Oakley’s feature debut. It’s hard to believe she wasn’t even born in 1988, when this film is set, considering how authentically the period is recreated. She may have set her story in a generic ‘Tyneside’ but the locations by Stuart Wharton and the production design from Soraya Gilanni both have a lived-in grit and beauty.

This clash of visual styles continues throughout the film, with the Thatcher-ravaged Tyneside offset by moments of grandeur and beauty. The perfect example of this is a jaw-dropping shot where Jean leans over a decaying ballroom balcony smoking, peeling paint framing a doorway and the people inside partying. The cinematography by Victor Seguin is incredible, dealing in soft pastels that leave a lingering chill over every shot.

It’s apt for Jean’s personality, a kind, solemn young PE teacher who is permanently frozen in fear. And as a lesbian woman in this world, she has every right to be. Thatcher’s Tory government had just introduced Section 28, a law that banned local authorities from “promoting homosexuality” and it’s clear that most of the fellow teachers at her school agree with it. She knows that being out at school would just create problems, so she makes herself a void. She refuses invites to the pub, she eats lunch alone, and she diminishes herself with every step.

Rosey McEwen is phenomenal in the lead role as her life collapses around her like a slo-mo car crash she’s powerless to prevent. It’s a complex role, with two very different personas at school and with her friends, and in her hands it’s captivating. She develops a great understanding with Oakley, both of them playing at exactly the same tempo and letting the scenes breathe before suddenly choking them in suffocating silence.



CAST: Rosey McEwen, Kerrie Hayes, Lydia Page, Lucy Halliday

DIRECTOR: Georgia Oakley

WRITER: Georgia Oakley

SYNOPSIS: In 1988, a closeted teacher is pushed to the brink when a new student threatens to expose her sexuality.