Written and directed by Lucia Puenzo
Review by Chloe Liederman
Up to two in every 100 human babies are born with ambiguous genitalia and/or chromosomal gender ambiguity of some kind. Because the condition is shrouded in sociological secrecy, there are far more intersexuals, formerly known as "hermaphrodites," than most people would ever imagine.
Filmmaker Lucia Puenzo takes on the subject of gender ambiguity as it relates to desire and identity in the critically acclaimed XXY, which she wrote and directed.
Set in Uruguay, XXY tells the story of Alex (Inés Efron), an intersex teenager struggling to navigate her complex journey as one who defies society’s most fiercely prized binary: male / female. Having been raised as a girl since birth, Alex experiences adolescence as a churning urn of life-altering questions about her unusual anatomy, her sexual orientation and her place in the landscape of desire.
When a plastic surgeon and his sexually questioning son, Álvaro (Martín Piroyansky), come to stay with Alex and her parents at their quiet, seaside home, a powerful juxtaposition of relationships emerges between the two teens and their fathers, respectively. Alvaro and Alex play important roles in one another’s processes of self discovery as they experience a mutual attraction that baffles any known concept of romantic coupling, conventional or otherwise.
Alex’s story is rendered with sensitivity, possibility and intrigue under Puenzo’s thoughtful direction. Puenzo has written the role without judgement, and Efron plays it with texture and nuance, layering innocence with perspective from beat to beat in this gritty and incisive film.
XXY won the Critics’ Week grand prize at the 2007 Cannes film festival, and made its US debut in June at at Frameline 32, the 32nd San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.
Nationwide openings are as follows:
Aug 1st at The Lumiere theater in San Francisco and The Shattuck Theater in Berkeley, CA
Aug 15th at The NuArt Theater in Los Angeles and The E Street Cinema in Washington, DC
Aug 29th at The Real Art Ways Theater in Hartford, CT
Sept 5th at Facets in Chicago, IL
Sept 12th at the Midtown Theater in Atlanta, GA
Sept 26th at the Varsity Theater in Seattle, WA
Oct 17th at the Detroit Arts Center in Detroit, MI