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Generational Sex Gap

A review on sexuality in Princess Cyd

Setting and time: quarantine day #5, around 7pm. Season: winter. Weather: dark, gloomy, and raining. Drunken wine bottles: one (I swear). Movie of choice: Princess Cyd (bless the search engine of the streaming platform MUBI for that one).

Written and directed by Stephen Cone in 2017, Princess Cyd is the perfect definition of a feelgood, coming of age movie. It immerses the spectator, making them wish they could be part of the diegesis.

The story revolves around Cyd, a free-spirited, curious, and fun sixteen-year-old girl who is just starting to discover life. While on a two-week summer vacation in a small American town to visit her aunt, Miranda Ruth, who is an acclaimed fiction writer and lives in her childhood home, Cyd meets an array of new people – by herself or through her aunt – which open up her world views and with whom she engages with sparking curiosity.

Miranda is a fun and cool aunt, full of interesting stories and knowledge about the world, but she is at a stage in her life where her work with fictitious narratives and stories has overtaken her appetite and desire to be open to new, real-life adventures and romances. The bond between Miranda and Cyd is immediately clear: they find a common language by spending a lot of time together after years of hiatus. Their dialogues are witty and rhythmic; it is very easy to fall in love with their duo. I wished I had as cool of an aunt as Miranda.

Cyd, even though she claimed to have a boyfriend at home, falls for a barista at a local café, Katie. Them getting to know each other is the representation of a charming and innocent teenage summer romance, which also involves Cyd discovering her curiosity for having sex with girls. Cyd shares this intimate information with Miranda, which instantly strengthens the two women’s relationship. Miranda also earwitnesses the first sexual encounter between Katie and Cyd and her reaction shows how much of a good influence Cyd’s presence has had on her: she immediately smiles, and it is clear that she is happy for her niece to have her desires come true. Miranda even puts on headphones to give the girls the privacy they deserve.

Miranda, however, has not explored her relationship with sex and dating for years. Even though she does have friends around her who are open to spending more than just quality time together, she keeps on dodging the obvious clues everyone else is able to notice. By seeing Cyd exploring her desires, she realizes that that part of life does not have to be over just because she is a little out of practice. The closer she gets to her niece, the bigger urge she feels to open up to the world of men and desires again.

Throughout the two weeks, Cyd encourages Miranda to take the next step with her so-called friend, Anthony, who is obviously head over heels for her. They already have a strong intellectual foundation for their relationship but neither of them was ever brave enough to make the first step for giving their connection a romantic make-over. Cyd’s fresh energy and curiosity inspire Miranda and give her confidence: she believes in herself and her sexuality as a forty-something woman again. It is wonderfully shown how women of different generations and the difference in their approach and energy towards sexuality influence both characters. On the one side, Miranda teaches and stimulates Cyd intellectually and tells her about the power of imagination and the importance of respect. On the other side, Cyd spikes the young and curious energy in Miranda after years of being closed down and focused on the worlds created in her books. After Cyd leaves town, Miranda keeps on doing the activities they started together, like going to the beach, lying around the house and garden in a swimsuit and maybe even making a move towards someone she fancies.

Everyone knows or at least has an idea of how awkward meeting an older relative can be, especially if you have not seen them for years. However, in the case of Miranda and Cyd, Miranda’s brilliant mind and Cyd’s raw take on life meet perfectly. The two spark each other’s personalities in a way in which it is obvious that neither of them has ever experienced before – or, at least, not in a while.

Before the end of the movie, Cyd receives a call from Miranda in which her aunt’s love for her is reassured one last time before the spectator is left with the end credits. Their bond and different experiences of life are rounded off nicely, nothing is left unsaid. The spectator is let go with a warm, heartfelt impression of two women from different generations meeting and connecting on the basis of family, intellect, fun, curiosity, and sexuality.

The movie brilliantly introduces a healthy aunt-niece relationship in which the boundaries are not laid down by family tradition but are formed by the relatives in question over the course of the movie. It deals with sexuality in an open and comfortable way, showing that talking about intimate subjects with family does not have to be alienating and strange at all. Even more so, the age gap between the main characters only helps them in opening up to each other rather than distancing them.

I can recommend Princess Cyd to anyone who likes to listen to witty dialogues and interesting conversations and would like to feel like they’re going on a two-week holiday to their aunt’s house somewhere next to Chicago.