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A Moving Trio of Tales on Lesbian Love

TIMES STAFF WRITER

“It’s all from love--how can that be wrong?” a woman asks as she and her femalepartner contemplate the disapproval that they and their unborn child may one day face.

That question has long resonated through the lesbian and gay community, and it echoes through the three short films that constitute “If These Walls Could Talk 2,” debuting Sunday on HBO.

The program--which, like the original “Walls,” drops in on the changing inhabitants of the same house in different decades--looks at some of the challenges that loving, committed gay relationships face from outside as well as inside the lesbian and gay community.

The first story, written and directed by Jane Anderson (“The Baby Dance”), depicts a longtime couple (Vanessa Redgrave and Marian Seldes) who have surety in each other, even if 1961 society refuses to recognize their love. When Seldes’ character dies, however, Redgrave is left suddenly and intensely alone, her widowhood unrecognized. Summoning what seems superhuman strength, she moves on--managing to walk ramrod straight even as grief weighs her down.

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The 1972 tale, written by Sylvia and Alex Sichel (“All Over Me”) and directed by Martha Coolidge (“Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”), ponders what happens when identity politics divide instead of unite. Here, a college woman (Michelle Williams of “Dawson’s Creek”) finds herself jettisoned by the feminist movement because she is lesbian, then rebuked by liberated lesbians for falling in love with a woman they deem too masculine (Chloe Sevigny, in a role that is a flip-flop of her part in “Boys Don’t Cry”).

If ever two people were meant for each other, though, they are Sevigny--with her slow, sexy smile and calm assurance--and Williams--her face aglow with wonder. They find wholeness in one of the most daring, most beautiful, most natural love scenes ever shown on television.

Though the present-day story, written and directed by Anne Heche, doesn’t measure up to the others, it is, nevertheless, a charming little romantic comedy about a couple (Sharon Stone and Ellen DeGeneres) who encounter myriad, um, shall we say “logistical” problems in their efforts to conceive.

By focusing more narrowly than “Common Ground,” January’s time-traveling gay trilogy on Showtime, “Walls” has the counter-effect of being more universal. For, whatever else they might be, these are love stories--and who can’t understand love?

* “If These Walls Could Talk 2" debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO and repeats Wednesday at 10 p.m. and other times throughout the month. The cable network has rated it TV-MA-L (may be unsuitable for children younger than 17, with an additional advisory for coarse language).


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