TRANSFIXED (Mauvais genres)

(director/writer: Francis Girod; screenwriters: from the novel by Brigitte Aubert/Philippe Cougrand; cinematographer: Thierry Jault; editor: Isabelle Dedieu; music: Alexandre Desplat; cast: Robinson Stévenin (Bo), Stéphane Metzger (Johnny), Richard Bohringer (Paul Huysmans), William Nadylam (Maeva), Frédéric Pellegeay (Alex), Marcel Dossogne (Professeur Ancelin), Ginette Garcin (Louisette Vincent), Stéphane de Groot (Pryzuski), Charlie Dupont (Courtois), Marcel Dossogne (Professeur Ancelin); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Humbert Balsan; Picture This! Entertainment; 2001-France/Belgium-in French with English subtitles)

“A sleazy crime story about transvestites in Brussels being chopped up by a madman.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Mauvais Genre which can be translated as Gender Bias, also goes by the name Transfixed. It’s a sleazy crime story about transvestites in Brussels being chopped up by a madman. Director Francis Girod adapts his film from the novel by Brigitte Aubert. It’s co-written by Girod and Philippe Cougrand.

The film opens as a transvestite, an operation away from feminity, named Bo (Robinson Stévenin) visits his Alzheimer beset grandmother and watches as his estranged father, Professor Ancelin (Marcel Dossogne), gets arrested for fondling a boy in his clinic. The officers, Paul Huysmans (Richard Bohringer) and his subordinate Courtois (Charlie Dupont), bring Bo down to the police station and play ‘good cop-bad cop’ as they coerce him to testify against his father for sexually assaulting him as a child. Bo was not believed as a child when he told the same story to the police and has ever since found no love for the authorities. Bo’s mom eventually found out the truth and dealt with it by committing suicide, while Bo ran away and became a transvestite nightclub entertainer.

Meanwhile Brussels is suddenly plagued with a rash of mutilation serial killings of transvestite hookers, who happen to travel in Bo’s social circle. While the pair of vice cops make Bo a prime suspect and get no cooperation from him, the homicide detective Pryzuski (Stéphane de Groot) works solo and enlists the help of Bo to keep tabs on his more experienced hooker transvestite friend Maeva (William Nadylam) as a possible target. But despite the murders or his father’s arrest, Bo’s interest is fully captured by her sociopath new roughhouse neighbor Johnny (Stéphane Metzger). He’s a small-time crook with a shady past, who pals around with his brutish crime partner Alex (Frédéric Pellegeay). Though Johnny treats Bo like dirt and shows no interest, Bo’s obsessed with the certifiable nutcase. Bo’s love for him doesn’t diminish even after the cocaine snorting thug sets him up for a beating. Johnny rewards Bo’s further overtures of love by breaking his arm.

This tabloid crime story gets needlessly complicated due to incredulous circumstances and the piling on of unneeded sleaze. But the bizarre murders take a back seat to the twisted one-way love story between Bo and Johnny, as the question raised becomes if unconditional love can overcome pure hate. As the surprises and bodies keep mounting up, the narrative seems to get lost in a deeper fog of plot devices. With no tension maintained and a convoluted drama to deal with, the film dies near the end as it puts all the pieces to the puzzle together by laboriously explaining everything from the psychological motives to the history of several of the transvestites to who was the shadowy mystery man dressed in black and wearing an eye-patch.

Nothing seemed to go smoothly in this weary story, as by the payoff I was as unconcerned about the murders as seemingly were the screenwriters. Though I must say, that Robinson Stévenin gave a sensitive and riveting performance as a troubled man living a messy life as a woman in high heels.