The movie highlights ten years in the life of a literature teacher named Laurence who transforms himself into a woman after years of concealing his feelings. Her tremulous relationship with her family is further complicated by revealing herself to them while she struggles to find comfort with her significant other Frédérique. Though others may not initially accept or understand Laurence in her true form, those who knew her before her transformation still know her as Laurence, anyways. Written by
Dazzling and disturbing, hard to watch but astonishingly original
This is a strong, disconcerting, highly unconventional movie that is not easy to review, or to watch. Although it is the story of a transgender experience and how it affects existing relationships, it is much more than that.
The movie is so strong and so complex--and so long--that I'm reluctant to say much more about it, partly because I don't know much else to say about it now. I'll need to watch it at least one more time before I'm ready even to think about doing that. I can say, though, that anyone expecting a love story about attractive and sympathetic characters will be severely disappointed and probably angry.
Anyone expecting a positive account of what it's like to change gender identity will probably be disappointed too. Anyone who needs the orderly development of a story and the relatable characters that are essential in Hollywood movies will be furious after having sat through these nearly three hours of VERY unconventional and challenging movie-making.
Finally, anyone who enjoys picking a movie apart and saying what he or she would do to make it better--eliminate peripheral characters, cut an hour off the movie's length, etc--will have a field day with this one. Unfortunately for them (and for anyone who takes what they say seriously), they will have denied themselves most of what this remarkable movie offers them.
The only way to receive what a movie (or any other work of art) offers is to accept it AS IT IS, on its own terms, WITHOUT trying to analyze it or change it to fit some outside notion ("outside" meaning in YOUR mind, as opposed to the author's) of what it OUGHT to be.
Instead of trying to make this (or any other) movie "better", either make your own movie or let go of your compulsion to control what happens to you as you watch this one. If you don't like the experience, that's fine, but if you really believe you could have done it better, you're a fool. You're impressing (and cheating) nobody but yourself and anybody else who takes you seriously.
But anyone who wants to see the latest work of an extraordinarily gifted and original young artist (Xavier Dolan, who is not yet 25 years old), whose genius is exploding into the world with such power and such speed that even he probably can't explain everything he does--and is willing to let go, to give up control of the experience and see what DOLAN is showing you instead of what you want to see--will be changed by this astonishing movie.
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