The reality of self-discovery is that you’re never going to accomplish it completely. That should be an encouraging idea! A certain amount of curiosity is necessary for continuing on; it keeps you on your toes, alert, and open to something new—even if that something new is as temporary as a fresh manicure in a color you may not totally love at first. The 11th hour of being a teenager, right at the brink of young adulthood’s dawn, is rife with self-discovery. Dealing with raging hormones is a daunting enough task; figuring out how to handle the raging hormones of your peers is even more so, especially when you’re a person who isn’t used to trying new things. But when you do, the experience can become transformative. It is for Cassie, the wallflower of Gabriella Moses’ new short film, Sticky Fingers.
Moses’ film zeroes in on the friendship of Cassie and her extroverted, seemingly experienced friend Lucy. Cassie comes from a strict household whereas Lucy’s parents let her get away with things like dyeing her hair shocking colors. They’re concert buddies, sisters in the way they complement one another’s naivety and wonder.
“These two girls are lost in their own world and are figuring out what love is for the first time,” Moses says. “What does it mean to be in love with a person?” That’s a theme that manifests in a variety of ways in Sticky Fingers, from the added confidence to cop a tub of Manic Panic hair dye to actually using the vibrant dye even when Cassie knows she’ll receive parental repercussions to Lucy explaining how she knew she wanted to have sex with her boyfriend.
You can’t answer the question of what love is with a dictionary definition; you answer it with feeling and action. Lucy considers love—or at least the love she thinks she knows—to be a string intrinsically connecting you with another person. Though it’s Lucy who is the first to admit she’s talking big talk but not necessarily walking the walk. “When you’re figuring out who you are, there’s a kind of a role you play until you’re more comfortable in your skin,” Moses says. “Whether it’s your sexuality or your racial background, it’s still a part of your growing up and your surroundings.”
Fake it until you make it sounds negative, right? Lucy isn’t faking it, but rather, pretending. Her letting her guard down—letting Cassie in on her truth— is a form of love, one Cassie, whose desire to understand her emotional and physical desires throughout Sticky Fingers’ short runtime, is building to a climax.
Whatever it is that inspires her to break free, Cassie’s self-discovery narrative is inspired in part by Lucy and her newly panicked-out hair. Sticky Fingers is a queer story told through music, hair dye, and friendship. It doesn’t seek to label its protagonists, but rather humanize them through their budding desires. “Fashion and style and hair are such a transformative gateway to personal maturity,” Moses says. Being supported and even encouraged to play around is daunting, yes, but beneficial to an individual’s long-term growth. It was for Cassie. All you’ve got to do is reach out and grab life, sticky fingers and all. You can peel off what doesn’t work after.
Watch the film, below.