There is nothing miraculous about Beeswax. It’s not gripping or hysterical or escapist. It’s mostly just real life. There’s a broken cash register, problems with a flaky business partner, the boredoms of employment, and the boredoms of unemployment. Films wherein nothing happens are definitely not for everyone, but Beeswax is definitely the kind of film I like. I would be thrilled to talk about the failings of this film, because I think they would have absolutely nothing to do with one of the main characters being in a wheelchair.
I read a blog post while ago (for which I have searched high and low, but cannot find) about five instances of the media doing disability right. One of those instances was in Twilight, where a man is in a wheelchair and it’s not even mentioned. The characters just go about their business because, lo and behold, the disabled person is a regular person too. Hail that moment all you will, but I still think that is a teeny weeny step for portrayals of disability in the media (albeit in a massively successful blockbuster). Beeswax has a main character in a wheelchair, who owns a successful business, has a sex scene, drives herself around Texas all she wants, and is generally more realistic and realistically self-sufficient than any other character I’ve ever seen on screen. The plot is not a manufactured success story of a meek woman overcoming the adverse cards dealt to her. Her body is her own, her life is her own.
Disability issues are always on my mind, but when I finished this movie I wasn’t thinking about the filmmaker’s pitfalls, the greater context of how disabled people fit into the working world, or the ableism I see and experience daily. More than anything, the film really made me wish I had a sister.
Watch the trailer:
If you’re interested in watching Beeswax, it’s available from Netflix on DVD and streaming. The film is by “mumblecore” pioneer Andrew Bujalski, so if you’re hard of hearing like me you might have a hard time understanding all the dialogue as captions are unavailable for every incarnation of the film.