When i thought of reviewing a movie that relates to transgender issue, i know i want to do two features. I was thinking of choosing two separate movies that depicted a female-to-male transgender and another one about male-to-female transgender.
The first movie that came up in my head was the controversial Boys Don’t Cry (1999) that based on a true event, a film that rewarded Hilary Swank her Oscar as a Best Actress. But then i remember this one 2011 german film called Romeos, a debut feature film by Sabine Bernardi, that still stuck in my mind.
Lukas (Rick Okon) is not happy, he got stuck in a female dorm because of his bureaucratic mess surrounding his legal documents. His only source of comfort was his lesbian best-friend, Ine (Liv Lisa Fries) who took him out to meet her friends and go to parties and gay bar. At one of those parties he met Fabio (Maximilian Befort), a walking definition of alpha male. Lukas attraction to Fabio is not unrequited. But the fact is, Lucas can not tell the truth that he’s a pre-operative transgender.
The movie might be lack of finesse and filled by flaws. But i enjoy watching it. Lukas shared his struggle with an online support group for transgender individuals. His interaction with the group actually give more ideas about what he has to endure and could not share to anyone in his real life. There are routines and habits that he did to maintain and create his illusion of masculinity while his transition process is still on going. He strapped the swell of his breast using a vest, wears layers of clothing, cross his arms, hunch his posture, he’s constantly anxious and uncomfortable in his skin just like his insecure about his gender. There were tender moments like when macro shots of body and facial hairs and fills the screen how fascinated and overjoy Lukas is by it.
So, as you can see, one of the reason i chose this movie is because it deals with a gay, transgender man (others like in Boys Don’t Cry, is not homosexual but heterosexual instead). This is the movie that put a harsh light on the difference of gender and sexuality. How society view of sex and gender are still traditional and limited. Evident in the delay in the bureaucratic legalities where Lukas is still recognized as a female instead of male. One of the defining moments was when they went down to a beach:
Ine: If you love boys anyway, then stay a girl, it would be easier.
Lukas: Are you crazy?
Ine: Why put yourself through all of this?
Lukas: The one thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other, Ine!
I’m not saying the portrayal of a life of a transgender is correct, this is a movie after all not a documentary. But it does highlights some social misconceptions and limited knowledge (or just plain ‘ol ignorance). Romeos is worth checking out for that and Rick Okon that carries the movie with his vulnerability as Lukas (despite i’m still find the ending less than satisfactory).
All pictures are taken from IMDb.