It’s been a long time since I saw this movie; I was reminded of it by a quote on E2. Finding it un-noded, I thought I’d provide a brief synopsis:

Lianna was written and directed by John Sayles. It was released in 1983 in the U.S, and stars Linda Griffiths as Lianna, Jon DeVries as her former college professor and current husband, Dick --no symbolism there, of course-- and Jane Hallaren as Lianna’s new love interest, Ruth.

Lianna never finished college; instead, she quit and married one of her professors. After twelve years and the birth of two children, she has grown dissatisfied with her life and has recently discovered evidence that her overbearing husband is cheating on her. Although she had never previously entertained any thoughts of lesbianism, she finds herself attracted to another woman (the professor who teaches her child psychology course) and begins an affair with her.

This movie is a story of personal growth. Although Lianna repeats her earlier pattern of falling in love with an older authority figure, she makes an effort to assert her independence and find out who she is, separate from her identities of wife and mother. This is only the second movie John Sayles directed, and the pacing is awkward at times, but then again, Lianna’s interactions with her husband, friends, children, lover, and new acquaintances are also awkward, as she tries out new roles. Visually, the movie is appealing, and the dialogue is clever. Some of my favorite parts:

In an argument with her husband, Lianna finally shouts, “The fact that you can argue better than I can doesn't make you right!”
Son: “Well, it’s tough getting used to the idea that my old lady is a dyke…” Lianna: “Hey! I’m not an old lady!”
Meeting a new acquaintance: Lianna, figiting awkwardly: “I’m gay.” Sheila: “Pleased to meet you, Gay. I’m Shelia.”

This movie is worth a viewing, although it may be difficult to find at the video store. The topics explored seem tamer now than they did in the early 1980's, but it's still an interesting coming out tale.

Courtesy of IMDB: Cast overview, first billed only: Linda Griffiths .... Lianna Jane Hallaren .... Ruth Jon DeVries .... Dick Jo Henderson .... Sandy Jessica Wight MacDonald .... Theda Jesse Solomon (I) .... Spencer John Sayles .... Jerry Stephen Mendillo .... Bob Betsy Julia Robinson .... Cindy Nancy Mette .... Kim Maggie Renzi .... Sheila Madelyn Coleman .... Mrs. Hennessy Robyn Reeves .... Job Applicant Chris Elliott (I) .... Lighting Assistant Marta Renzi .... Dancer