June 28, 2013

Laurence Anyways -- a Transgender Journey

Poster for Laurence Anyways
Laurence Anyways is a French Canadian film from 2012 that should be of great interest to the gender dysphoric side of the crossdreamer community.

Laurence, the protagonist, is transsexual at heart, and finally comes to the conclusion that she can no longer live as he, and wants to come out as a woman.

"I'm not gay," Laurence explains to his girl friend Fred. "It's not that I like men, I'm just not made to be one."

This is not primarily -- or only -- a film about being transsexual. The main focus of the story is the relationship between Laurence and her girl friend Fred, and how the two of them tackle the upheaval of Laurence finding herself.

This is a truly a love story. Fred tries hard to adapt to the new life of the person that she deeply loves.

But this is not a love story of the pink poster Hollywood type. It becomes extremely hard for the two of them to make their love story fit the script the people around them are used to and expect.

It is not a secret that a significant percentage of marriages and love partnerships ends when one of the two transitions. This is a story about the kind of challenges such couples meet and what these challenges do to them.

Melvil Pupaud plays Laurence
The film was made by Xavier Dolan, a Canadian actor and filmmaker.

Here you have an homosexual man making a movie about a gynephilic transsexual woman, who befriends a group of gay drag queens.

Needless to say, Dolan doesn't give a damn about the script written by Ray Blanchard and his crew. I mean that in a good way!

The fact that the movie is made by a gay man may explain, a couple of the few unexpected elements in  the movie.


In the beginning of her transition process Laurence displays a certain gender ambiguity, symbolized by her short hair and the fact that she wears only one earring.

There are many gynephilic male to female transsexuals who go through phases where they explore being gender queer and gender challenger, but the fact is that most of them -- Laurence included, apparently -- just want to be women. Dressing up as a woman, while keeping a male hair cut seems like a misleading symbolic statement to me.

This is not a political movie, though. The only reference to transgender politics is the fact that Laurence loses his teaching job because gender dysphoria is listed as a mental illness in the US psychiatric manual (the DSM).

But it is this incidence that brings Fred's and Laurence's relationship out of balance, so in one way the DSM comes to exemplify the prejudices of the society around them.

It is an impressive movie, and an engaging movie, and well worth buying.

That does not mean it is without flaws. The movie is too long. I find some of the pop video elements, like the water falling down on the sofa, distracting. Others, like the rain of laundry however, works well.

The movie is set in the 1990s, but the music is from the 80's. I am not sure what that is about, although the use of Visage's "Fade to Grey" is wonderful.

Given the cinematic splendor of the movie, it is a shame that it was not filmed in the wide screen format.

The Wikipedia on Laurence Anyways
Get this movie from Amazon!

3 comments:

joanna Santos said...

Jack I saw the movie about 6 months ago and enjoyed it. However I had a very hard time relating to her. I found her not very sympathetic and even selfish. Still its a realistic portrayal of a trans person and definitely merits viewing if for no other reason...

Jack Molay said...

I agree that she may appear selfish and unsympathetic. But then again trans people are people too, for good and for bad. What the film taught me was that sometimes there is no perfect solution. People will get hurt, no matter what we do, and we have to cope with that.

Jack

joanna Santos said...

I agree jack in that it portrays very graphically how lives and relationships can be destroyed by all this...

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