(director: Xavier Dolan; cinematographer: Yves Bélanger; editor: Xavier Dolan; music: Noia; cast: Nathalie Baye (Julienne Alia), Melvil Poupaud (Laurence Alia), Suzanne Clement (Frederique Bellair), Suzanne Almgren (Journalist), Yves Jacques (Michel Lafortune), Emmanuel Schwartz (Baby Rose), Monia Chokri (Stéfanie Belair), Magalie Lepine-Blondeau (Charlotte), David Savard (Albert); Runtime: 161; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Charles Gillibert/ Nathanaël Karmitz/Lyse Lafontaine; Breaking Glass Pictures; 2012-Canada-in French with English subtitles)
“A stylish and immodest transgender melodrama.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A stylish and immodest transgender melodrama written, directed and edited by the 24-year-old Xavier Dolan(“I Killed My Mother“/”Heartbeats“). It’s set in the 1990s and spans 10 years, as it shows its protagonist go from a male to a female. Its nearly three-hour length is a chore to get through. But it does elicit keen emotional responses and expresses an intensity over its controversial dramatics.
Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) is a 35-year-old literature teacher in Montreal, who is dating the redhead Frederique (Suzanne Clement). He will soon tell his woman that ‘he’s a woman in a man’s body.’ When he also tells this to his mom (Nathalie Baye), she freaks out just like his girlfriend. Next thing you know, Laurence comes to school in orange heels and a green skirt, and while walking to class in the halls the tune of Headman’s “Moisture” blasts out in the background.
It results in Laurence being fired and getting beat up by a barroom homophobic. He’s saved from isolation when taken in by the Roses, an eccentric family of queer performance artists. Meanwhile Fred, a video-maker, also gets canned as she’s deemed guilty by association.
When the lovers separate, Laurence dates the straight-laced Charlotte (Magalie Lepine-Blondeau) and Fred has a kid with her boring hubby Albert (David Savard).
The film gets across its point about the emotional and social costs of trans-sexuality, and how society is so adverse to diversity. I just wouldn’t call it film that I could snuggle up to.
REVIEWED ON 2/11/2016 GRADE: B-