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Karl Foyle and Paul Prentice were best mates at school in the Seventies. But when they meet again in present-day London things are definitely not the same. Karl is now Kim, a transsexual, and she has no desire to stir up the past while she's busy forging a neat and orderly new life. Prentice, on the other hand, has charm but is a social disaster stuck in a dead-end job. His main talent is for getting them both into trouble. Amid the squabbles, they start to fall in love. One night, Kim invites Prentice to a romantic dinner at her flat. Prentice, finding the seduction unexpectedly effective, freaks out. He proceeds to make a public display of both of them and winds up in court. Humiliated and angry, Kim runs away. Only she can save Prentice now, but will true love triumph for a new made woman and an aging punk? Written by
Alright...maybe this is too psychoanalytical an approach for the film, but here goes. Completely intrigued by the development of the principal characters and their evolving relationship, I took in 2 screenings of this film, as this movie is like an onion -which to get to the core of its subject and to understand its mystery, you have to peel off the multiple layers. A shower scene, a school picture, and a tabloid article are crucial clues that mold the dependency and sexual confusion that bonds the Prentice and Karl/Kim characters together. Their relationship has endured since highschool. We see a young man, who has subtly hidden his sex is embracing his feminine side in the schoolshower. Just before he gets the sh-- kicked out of him by homophobic schoolmates, another boy gallantly rescues the pretty boy from the mob. The audience immediately assumes that it is Karl who was questioning his sex in the shower--but disclosed in later pics, we discover that it is actually Prentice who was doing the introspection! Karl/Kim who could relate to the scene was the actual rescuer.
Portrayed as cool, bold, logical, and independent Karl/Kim presents him/herself with the unflappable reserve of a male personality, who feels dysfunctional with exterior male genitalia. Changing Karl to Kim remedies his/her warped body image, so that he can obtain the feminine exterior which appears so desirable. Expression of the dual conflicting natures can be seen throughout the film as she tries to overcompensate for this masculine interior of herself, by dressing in conservative woman's clothing and finding a feminine career as a Greeting card composer. Even her condo is done up in overtly feminine hues. Prentice is the antithesis of Kim. He is flighty, emotional, dependent and vulnerable. Contrasting Kim, he has an interior feminine nature that is contained in a masculine exterior that is repressed and hidden in a major bravado of masculinity. This is demonstrated with his embracing the fury of punk music, playing the leather-clad macho biker messenger, and keeping up an affront of being a boozer and rebel-rouser. Even Prentice's studio apt seems an exercise in testosterone proving, looking much like an uncleaned dormroom. Peeks at his interior femininity however do come through subtly- he fems up in a ruffled shirt for Kim, and wears a purple T-shirt under his workgarb. Look at Prentices enchanted glance to Kim, versus her patriarchial look back at him in the school pic. His eventual assertion that men are women with an added chromosone. In summation, Prentice completes Kim in that his feminine interior desires her masculine interior, while alternately his masculine exterior fulfills her (now) feminine exterior. If you don't look at Kim's Before/After photo in the tabloid, you don't realize that the character's gender roles were reversed in the school scenes. Kim becomes Prentice's rescuer once again when he emotionally loses it after their first date, and she must stand up again for him (this time it's police bullies) in court! When Kim strips for Prentice, It is like a mirror to the inside of his soul. Complex Film indeed!!!
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