I watched this film expecting good production values, an 'artsy' aesthetic and some well rehearsed witticisms about race/class/gender. The Watermelon Woman is none of those things, and instead looks like what it is: A woman with a video camera, wandering around the city in search of the elusive 'Watermelon Woman'. The fact that it didn't fulfil any of my aforementioned expectations doesn't matter, because of the sheer integrity of what Dunye has done. She's looked at two issues and been delicate enough about both, without side-stepping the crux of the argument; Black lesbians are non-existent, and mixed race relationships, even on the supposedly 'open minded' gay scene, are still taboo.
There is more to this movie than that, of course; Dunye plays a sweet, genuine intellectual who isn't the stereotypical loser with milk bottle glasses, and isn't a 'gifted hood' either. Guinevere Turner is very good at seduction: When they meet 'for dinner', she manages to be sexy and playful and none of her lines made me cringe. I think this is due to the very good script produced by Dunye, which for the most part avoids stereotypes. The footage of the watermelon woman is fake, but is so well done that I actually thought there was such a thing as 'Plantation Memories' (or whatever the film is called).
Its a shame that this film didn't get better distribution, because its been made with the best intentions at heart. Dunye has realised that there are very few black lesbians (that is, gay people in general) around, and so there are very few role models or idols for closeted kids to look to. No doubt she had this problem when she was young, and has made a very good movie to highlight this. Although the production values aren't that good, and sometimes the actors forget their lines, the beauty of this movie isn't in the aesthetics but the intellect behind it.