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Movie Review: 'Princess Cyd'

Smart, sensitive indie coming of age romance, 'Princess Cyd' arrives on home video.

Princess Cyd is a movie that may make you uncomfortable but it will also charm you and make you laugh. The film is a frank discussion of a teenage girl discovering her sexuality and for many, myself included, this is not an easily digestible subject. That said, Princess Cyd happens to be a remarkably sensitive, smart and funny coming of age story with fully realized and charming characters. It’s a film that reminds us all how important it is to talk about and explore topics we may find awkward or uncomfortable.

Cyd (Jesse Pinnick) is a 16-year-old girl who loves soccer and is perhaps a little too eager to start the adult portion of her life. When she is offered the chance to get away from her often depressed father and stay with her Aunt Miranda (Rebecca Spence) in Chicago for several weeks she jumps at it. Miranda doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into. That’s not to say that Cyd is some bad girl troublemaker, but being middle-aged and childless, Miranda may not be ready for the challenge of a 16-year-old girl.

For her part, Miranda is a successful bestselling author who finds her love and fulfillment in her books and her many friendships. She’s happy to take Cyd on for a few weeks but when Cyd starts to challenge her life choices, things begin to get uncomfortable. Here, a lesser movie would set the stage for dramatic confrontations, big teary, showy arguments and some sort of dramatic falling out that leads to some stock reunion over string laden score. Thankfully, Princess Cyd is not that movie.

Written and directed by rising filmmaker Stephen Cone, Princess Cyd sets Cyd and Miranda at odds and then uses sensitivity, listening and understanding to carry the way toward a resolution. That may not sound exciting but when you’ve grown used to big, giant emotions in mainstream Hollywood movies, it’s nice to watch smart, sensitive characters work through their issues by having an intelligent and emotional conversation.

This brings us to what some will consider the controversial portion of Princess Cyd: Cyd falling into a relationship with a slightly older teenage girl named Katie (Malic White). The two meet at a coffee shop and Cyd is caught by Katie’s unique beauty, her large eyes and her punk haircut. The attraction is mutual and the way the two explore their feelings is rather beautiful, tentative and intimate. These scenes have an authenticity to them that I feel blows past the awkward notion that we are watching teenage girls explore their sexuality. There is a truth to the intimacy of Cyd and Katie that is quite beautiful and I believe sensitively displayed by director Cone.

Miranda also takes this sexual awakening in stride. She overhears the encounter and rather than reacting like a typical parent she minds her own business. Sex is sometimes just sex and does not need to be fraught with all kinds of judgement. Sometimes, it’s just okay to have sex and try to figure out what it is you like and how it affects who you are as person. You can bring all the outside drama to this that you like but I think the way in which these specific characters deal with their intimacy and learning is quite lovely and it’s an example of why I think Princess Cyd is so lovely.

Wonderful performances, a smart, sensitive script and solid direction make for one of the more surprising movies of 2017 for me. I had no idea Princess Cyd or writer-director Stephen Cone existed before I was lucky enough to be emailed by a publicist. I am so glad I got that email and so glad that I got to feel uncomfortable and awkward but also be invited to laugh and fall in love and explore with these brilliant women.

Princess Cyd is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and On-Demand services on December 5.