Saturday, March 26, 2011

Movie Review: XXY

(Just as a heads up, there's some nudity in the trailer)

As I was perusing Netflix's selection of Spanish-language movies on instant-watch, I came across XXY.

To briefly explain the title, XXY is a chromosomal variation known as Klinefelter's syndrome. Typically, XY is the chromosome that creates males, while XX creates females. (As far as sex organs go.) XXY is a variation for males that can result in smaller testicles and reduced fertility (some men get the extra chromosome and don't have Klinefelter's syndrome). When babies are born with sex-chromosome variations, parents are often pushed into deciding a gender for that child. So while XXY is a chromosomal variation for males, some parents decide or are coerced into raising their children female because it is assumed that without larger male sex organs, the child will not be able to live "normally" as a male. Unsurprisingly, this is often an uninformed or bad decision.

I really enjoyed it. I don't know a lot about intersex people, other than what I've read on wikipedia and in Jeffrey Eugenide's novel, Middlesex (which I also recommend). I think this movie did a really good job at showing that holding onto gender stereotypes deeply is an oversimplification of how gender works as well as really dangerous. Alex, the main character in the movie lives in a small sea-side town in Uruguay with her parents. The movie centers around a visit that a famous surgeon, his wife, and teenage son make to Alex's house. The surgeon appear to be understanding at the beginning of the movie, but turn out to be strong advocates of the gender binary. Alex's parents are much more caught in-between wanting Alex to live a "normal" life, and realize that adopting one gender or the other is not an easy choice. The friendship that develops between Alex and Alvaro, the surgeon's son, is really interesting as well.

I think it was a very well done movie (Argentinian cinema is pretty baller), and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in gender or the rights of intersex people. (There are subtitles, don't fret.)

1 comment:

  1. I loved the movie. That being said, I want to see more media portrayal of intersex (and other sexual minority/gender variant people) BY sexual minority/gender variant people! I think that people tend to read something like Middlesex and assume that Eugenides' imaginings of life as an intersex person may or may not be anything like the life of an actual intersex person. I know it's a work of fiction, but if that is the only exposure the mainstream gets to an intersex story, than they take it for granted that it's accurate without considering the source. Back to the movie though, I totally loved it and from what I can tell on the interwebs, the feedback from the intersex community seems to be largely positive, which is awesome and now I can get back to recommending it to everyone I know without worrying about whether or not it is giving any kind of an accurate voice to its protagonist. Thanks for the review!