“You Can Live Forever” Accurately Depicts Religious Brainwashing And The LGBTQ Experience

Last week, I was scrolling through Youtube and watching videos when I stumbled upon a compilation clip of a lesbian couple I hadn’t seen before. That wasn’t the first time I clicked on a video of two characters from a show or movie I’d never seen. That’s actually what tends to get me to watch new things. I have a too short attention span to really indulge in watching TV shows and movies. 

As I watched this fan-edited clip on YouTube, I heard the word Jehovah’s Witness. And I realized exactly what type of movie this was. This was a long overdue movie and a story that needs to be told. As someone who identifies as queer, it’s absolutely amazing how much more LGBTQ representation I see in modern-day television and cinema.

“You Can Live Forever” is a Canadian romance movie that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 11, 2022.   

The movie is set in the 1990s and tells the story of Jaime. She moves into her aunt’s house after her dad’s sudden passing. Due to her aunt’s faith, she is coerced into practicing being a Jehovah’s Witness despite not believing in it herself. That’s where she meets Marike, a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Marike, despite being constantly motivated by her religious beliefs, is questioning her sexuality, just like Jaime is.

The movie was directed and written by Mark Slutsky and Sarah Watts. Sarah Watts has been open about her experience relating to the film plot. In the director’s interview with Eye For Film, Sarah Watts stated, “As a gay woman who grew up in that religion, I have lost most of my family members on that side. They’re not allowed to speak to me. We definitely infused a lot of that personal grief into the story.” 

This story is accurately told because the right person wrote it. 

My biggest gripe with many modern depictions of LGBTQ culture in the media is that it’s written by people who haven’t experienced being part of the LGBTQ group. This leads to a disconnect between the writer and the character. They write stereotypes of how they feel the characters would react in situations like coming out and being closeted. But very few manage to fully dive into those emotions. Many movies think all it takes is for two gay people to kiss for their problems to be solved.

I think this movie did an absolutely perfect job of realistically demonstrating a gay relationship that is not accepted because of religion. It does this without fully villainizing the characters who are devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. Instead of waving pitchforks and spouting anti-LGBTQ propaganda, these religious characters attempt to help these two girls by trying to bring them closer to what they feel is right because they were brainwashed by religion.

The plot in general resonated with me as I dated someone who was a Jehovah’s Witness in high school.

I felt myself personally relating to Jaime’s perspective. I related to the confusion stemming from having feelings for someone who isn’t a hundred percent there due to experiencing guilt. It brought me back to those days of secrecy. (In fact, we never really got to explore a real relationship because of their religious beliefs.) The actors were able to demonstrate this narrative correctly without losing sight of their characters’ backgrounds.

As of today, this movie has not been published on any streaming services. Instead, it’s only being showcased at film festivals. So it has developed a cult following. However, if you are so lucky to watch this movie at a film festival (or somehow locate a bootleg version on YouTube as I did), I’d highly recommend fully indulging in this forbidden sapphic romance. You won’t regret it.

Featured image via “You Can Live Forever” Trailer



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