directed by Lucia Puenso, played at the
2007 Festival Nouveau Cinéma. Nick
Schrager, who writes for SLANT,
gave the film 3.5 out of 5 stars.
a secret at the heart of XXY, but the real mystery
is why writer-director Lucía Puenzo insists on unnecessary
symbolic gestures for a story otherwise told with delicacy,
restraint and maturity.
a seaside Uruguayan village, 15-year-old Alex (Ines Efron)
and her parents have their self-imposed isolation interrupted
by the arrival of a surgeon, Ramiro (Germán Palacios),
his wife Erika (Carolina Pelereti), and their son Alvaro (Martin
Piroyansky). Alex and Alvaro strike up an uneasy, highly charged
friendship that develops into something more complex when
the boy discovers the reason behind Alex's strange behavior
and alienation from the community: she's a hermaphrodite.
inundates her tale with water-creature imagery (including
shots of hermaphroditic clownfish) and names Alex's father,
marine biologist Kraken (Ricardo Darin), after the mythic
giant squid, decisions that fail to enhance the already pressing
sense that Alex's unique physical condition engenders confusion
and anger (in her) as well as curiosity and unease (in others).
Fortunately, the film's treatment of its central subject is
otherwise devoid of such decorative touches, turning a compassionate
eye toward both Alex and Kraken's parallel attempts to come
to grips with a situation that -- because Alex has stopped
taking medication and, thus, will soon begin a process of
"masculinization" -- is quickly coming to a head.
portrait of sex/gender definition is suitably prickly and
non-judgmental even though, at times, the story seems incapable
of truly getting underneath Alex's skin, remaining an external
observer to her inner tumultuousness. Nonetheless, if
XXY ultimately falls short of providing a first-person
view on its protagonist's circumstances, the director's debut
succeeds as a reasonably empathetic saga about the bonds shared
by children and parents. Notwithstanding tacked-on tension
concerning Alvaro and his callous father Ramiro, the film
locates affecting pathos in the dynamic between Kraken and
Alex, the latter desperate for parental acceptance, and the
former wracked by shame, a fear of powerlessness and anxiety
over choosing a proper course for his child. With compelling
sensitivity, XXY addresses the multifaceted needs
inherent to father-child relations, closing on a simple sight
of an arm around a shoulder that subtly but powerfully encapsulates
the virtues of faith, loyalty and empowerment.
the ratings of all the films, click HERE.