Documentary Ovarian Psycos features an interesting premise, but not enough of a hook to sustain interest throughout its duration.
The Ovarian Psycos are a collective of young women of colour in East Los Angeles. With their vivid imagery, the group meet for bicycle rides. They fight prejudices in their neighbourhoods as well as providing a sense of belonging for their members…
Director-producers Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle focus on a crew of female cyclists with distinct symbolism. The documentary focuses on the stories of a few of these women, as well as the group overall. The establishing shots depict this very striking image of a group of women riders, and their distinctive looks and bandanas. The filmmakers elicit interest with this introduction.
The opening of the film paints the Ovarian Psycos in a flattering light to begin with; it is a positive portrayal of a collective of young women. The group itself is a suitable topic for a documentary, yet there is no real hook to reel in viewers. As the film progresses, imagery presides over substance. There is significant focus on the make up of the group, their reason for meeting and how they organise. Yet, this is not particularly riveting. For all their talk of improving their neighbourhoods, there is little evidence of this in the film. The group certainly provide a useful service for young female cyclists, but the documentary does not make it clear how they are politically or socially active.
Ovarian Psycos is most interesting when it focuses on the human interest stories. Delving into the backstories of Elvie and Xela, gives colour and context to the group, and highlights the need for belonging and support. The segment on previous movements in the community is also interesting. Although the area of intersectionality is ripe for exploration, it is not clear from the film at least how the group functions as a social movement.
Ovarian Psycos feels a little like a squandered opportunity. More focus on the stories of the women would have made for a more satisfying film.
Ovarian Psycos is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.