Available now on Hulu, this Argentine-Spanish-French film possesses a melancholic coloration — from dark waters to evening woods — that add intensity to the visual while the plot deepens and twists.
15-year-old Alex lives in a town on the coast of Uruguay with her mother and father who is a biologist working closely with local turtles. In the opening scenes, the sense of Alex being in danger is set and the tension between her parents is made palpable as guests arrive to visit with the family. Alex, an intersex teen, has been raised as a girl. In the father’s eyes, Alex was perfect from the moment of birth, but Alex’s mother has her reservations. Among the guests the mother has invited to the house is a surgeon who she researched after discovering that Alex had stopped taking the hormones that blocked increases in testosterone. Without the pills Alex would, to use the surgeon’s word, “masculinize.” Between pills, creams and operations, all Alex really wants is autonomy and stability. Navigating the strained home and new visitors would be enough, but Alex also must face betrayal and rising hostility from the community.
Themes of gender, sexuality and adolescence mingle with that of friendship, betrayal and safety in XXY. The meaning of family, the role of the parent-child relationship and the compassion of love are prodded by the rupture of secrecy and things previously left unspoken. Bodies, not just Alex’s, are featured not as spectacles or for shock value — no groins are shown throughout the movie for that matter— but as art in motion, as nature. Be aware that this film is not rated and does involve scenes of intimacy as well as one extreme scene of harassment.
Other suggestions in light of National Coming Out Day include the documentary “(A) Sexual“ (2011) which is available on Netflix and Hulu, as well as the recently released “Pariah” (2011) also available on Netflix.