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Fire Island Review: Hulu Movie Hilariously Puts the Pride in Pride and Prejudice



The cast and title of Fire Island

Joel Kim Booster, the writer and star of the new Hulu film Fire Island, wrote a wonderful autobiographical piece for Penguin Random House, in which he describes the titular gay destination spot:

His often hilarious film, directed by Andrew Ahn and loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, expertly explores this divide (between class, race, sexuality, and more) in a way many queer films tend to avoid, and for understandable reasons. However, Fire Island does this in the most subtle of ways and, like the Jane Austen novel on which it’s loosely based, manages to be very entertaining and just as appealing to people who are simply looking for a good time as it is to any intellectual. It’s a very funny, very gay, and often very sharp movie even when it’s self-admittedly diving deep into the waters of the stupidest rom-com clichés.

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Fire Island follows the week-long vacation of a group of lower-income friends who travel to the vacation destination each year, where queer people have been congregating and communing for decades. Fire Island was a safe haven location for the LGBTQ+ community ever since the mid-20th century, when often closeted or persecuted gay and lesbian people would get together to be themselves in a non-judgmental environment at a time when homosexuality was essentially illegal.

What makes Fire Island so interesting is the way that it observes this hallowed gay community in contemporary times. The LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith, and has many of the exact same problems as the rest of society, something Fire Island (drawing from Pride and Prejudice) carefully maps out. The biggest issue of all, perhaps, is classism, and the economic inequality which divides people even within a marginalized community; class is ultimately the largest barrier, and it can tear apart even the oppressed.

Related: Fire Island: Why We’re Excited About This New Gay Rom-Com

Booster plays Noah, who is based on Austen’s character Elizabeth Bennet. Noah’s friends arrive at a home on the island owned by their matriarch of sorts, Erin (played by a delightful Margaret Cho and based on Mrs. Bennet), who is facing financial difficulties after blowing most of the money she received from a lucrative con job. This means that the house must be sold, and that this might consequently be the last summer on Fire Island for the group of slowly aging but beautiful friends, who have been naturally drifting as the gravity of life’s responsibilities sends them apart. The week on the island is a promise of sorts, a dream of liberation sweaty with sex, drugs, laughs, and love.

Of course, Fire Island is filled with the typical subplots of rom-coms and cheesy romance movies (which have all been influence by Austen, to varying degrees) Noah tries to hook his best friend up, he has a love-hate relationship with a somewhat secretive man he’ll obviously end up with, the kooky supporting friends get into misadventures, this might be their last time together, arrogant villains rear their heads as rich-boy bullies, and so on. Fortunately, this is all done very well with efficiency, thanks to tight editing and a refined and honed script.