It’s a tale highly topical to our present day, wildly polarized political landscape. However the themes of love and adversity found in the documentary Edie and Thea are powerfully universal and sadly have been found in every prior epoch. Edie and Thea concerns the long, vibrant relationship that existed between Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer. The couple built a life together and shared a partnership for over 40 years, before Spyer passed away in 2009. After being romantically linked throughout the traumatic late period of the 20th Century; traveling the world and becoming involved in gay rights activism, Windsor was still ordered to pay federal estate taxes because of the fact that there are blatant inequalities in how the law treats same sex couples in comparison with their heterosexual counterparts.
Windsor sued the government in 2009 and this lean documentary provides a small glimpse into the dynamic relationship these two women shared together. Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdottir’s film has modest ambitions, and is, for the most part, successful in achieving them. The film spends a lot of time delving into the history of the two women’s lives, their courtship, and their trials as a same-sex couple living through turbulent times. This section is filled with candid images (composed primarily of personal photographs) and reflections from the two women – yet, it remains only mildly engaging. What is far more engrossing is the more contemporary footage of the two women simply interacting; it is here where the relationship feels the most real, the most palpable. Additionally, it is when film moves away from what resembles little more than a glorified, personal slide show that the couple’s story starts speaking more to the larger issue at hand, which is the blatantly insane politics of the United States forcing committed, loving partners to travel to other countries to be married.
Edie and Thea isn’t some sort of epic social statement which will be studied and revered for decades to come. Still, it is a potent reminder of our country’s repugnant stance towards same-sex marriage, which restricts and marginalizes homosexuals into being second class citizens. The film successfully evokes the sense of joy that the two women’s relationship seemed to be instilled with. Also, the moving imagery of Windsor tending to Spyer as her health deteriorated later in life provides a depiction of love that we can all aspire to give, and take, in our lives.