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XXY > Out In Africa Film Festival

by Roger Young / 08.09.2009

The power of XXY lies in its lack of sensationalism. So easy would it have been to exploit the subject matter for hollow drama that it’s very restraint and humanity renders it a masterpiece.

While on the surface XXY is a story about a young hermaphrodite’s struggle with her sexual identity it doesn’t hesitate to explore the surrounding issues of a family struggling to figure out the best options to provide for their daughter (who is slowly defeating the medications that prevent her from becoming a son). Fifteen year-old Alex’s parents’ Kraken and Suli have retreated with her to a small coastal Uruguayan town in order to protect her and let her live without fear. Kraken works as a marine biologist, nursing turtles that have been wounded in fishermen’s nets back to health.  It could be that, as Suli sees it, Kraken is unable to make a decision on how to handle Alex’s impending maturation or he could be intent to leave her as nature has made her, perhaps indicated by the hermaphrodite clown fish in the aquarium in his home study. When Suli invites a top plastic surgeon to stay for a weekend, he arrives with his wife and son, Alvaro, who in turn is struggling with his sexual identity. Puenzo never panders to nor patronizes any of the disparate viewpoints.

Mostly, the emotional turning points are told without dialogue in simple beautiful images. The decisions pondered are rendered from all angles. XXY never tries to impose one course of recommended action on the viewer, but rather illustrates the difficulties of being different and seeking to find a place in a society that demands definition.

Directed by Lucía Puenzo

Out In Africa Festival
JHB Sat 5th / 8.15pm + GUEST ♥ Wed 9th / 7pm + GUESTS ♥ Fri 11th / 9pm
CT Sat 12th / 8.45pm + GUESTS ♥ Tue 15th / 8.15pm + GUESTS ♥ Thu 17th / 9pm


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  1. djf says:

    My local DVD rental outlet has had this on their shelves for the last few months. It’s a well-made and eloquent movie, but I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. I have also heard rumours that previous attempts to show it at film festivals here met with a lot of opposition due to its “controversial” subject matter.

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