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1983 Movie Reviews – Lianna

by Sean P. Aune | January 14, 2023January 14, 2023 10:30 am EST

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1983 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.


We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly four dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1983 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1983 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around, it’s January 14, 1983, and we’re off to see Lianna!

Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to numerous episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.

1983 Movie Project - Lianna - 01



Going into Lianna, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And even as the story progressed, I wasn’t quite ready for what felt somewhat like the female version of 1982’s Making Love.

The story follows Lianna as she discovers her husband, a college professor is having an affair with one of his students. Not only does she learn this, but she discovers the latest student is one of many. Throughout all of this, she starts to have feelings for Ruth, a professor that she is taking a class, and begins to explore what that relationship may be like.

As the story progresses, Lianana comes to realize she is a lesbian, but has always suppressed that part of herself. And this is where the story takes an interesting turn as her husband, who cheated on her, is no longer the enemy of the story, but instead, it is Lianna.

The acting in the film is superb, and you really feel for Lianna and what she is going through as friends distance themselves from her, one of her children rejects her, and her ex-husband paints her as the villain of their stories. But where the film does fall down is in John Sayles directing. He makes some of the most peculiar choices I have ever seen, such as Lianna’s first trip to a lesbian bar.

Sayles tries to convey this sense of hunger among the patrons with lots of extreme closeups on their eyes as they dart about and make contact with others. The concept is fine, but the issue is we don’t know these people, and as an audience, we don’t care. This scene would be made so much more impactful with the same technique showing us Lianna’s eyes.  Show us her confusion changing to a gradual acceptance of this being where she feels comfortable. Instead, we just get an anonymous eye shot after an anonymous eyeshot.

This is just one of many times where he makes odd aesthetic choices, but luckily the film still works due to his script and the stellar performances of his cast.

1983 Movie Reviews will return on Jan. 21, 2023 with The House on Sorority Row and Treasure of the Four Crowns!

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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing