May 15, 2008


This excellent film by Argentinian writer/director Lucía Puenzo deals with a family's problem with hermaphroditism. That is, a couple have a teenage daughter who is half woman and half man. What is remarkable about the movie is the intelligence and the maturity with which it deals with the topic. Because she is a teenager and is starting to come of age, the family has reached a critical point in which a decision must be made about what sex is she going to be. It is hard because, Alex, the protagonist, doesn't really know it herself. The young actress who plays Alex starts out acting like a freak, a particularly difficult teenager (aren't all teenagers freaks by definition?), but one warms up to her because she goes through these extremes of pain and defiance and sheer confusion. She is amazing.
It's hard to talk about this movie without giving it away and there is so much that is bracing and interesting about it, that I don't really want to go into it. For those of you who don't live anywhere near the tiny screen of the Cinema Village where XXY is showing, I'm sure it will make it's way to Netflix. It won an important prize at Cannes last year.
In all, the cast is excellent, the script is extremely compelling, strong but moving, without ever (except in one scene) resorting to cliché or sentimentality. XXY is the movie equivalent of tough love, fierce and compassionate. Well worth watching.

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