XXY

Many people refer to paedophilia as the last taboo, and to paedophiles as the unmentionable, untouchable outcasts of society; but XXY shows it is not ...

★★★★
archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 18 Aug 2007
33332 large
115270 original
Many people refer to paedophilia as the last taboo, and to paedophiles as the unmentionable, untouchable outcasts of society; but XXY shows it is not the only one. This exquisitely shot debut film from Argentinian writer-director Lucía Puenzo, tells the sensitive story of 15 year old Alex (Inés Efron) and her tormented parents who have moved to a remote island community in order to escape the narrow-minded bullying and judgmental gossip that they have come to expect from their neighbours. Alex is a hermaphrodite, and her mother feels that it is time that she/he chose, or at least has the opportunity to choose, which sex to be. Alex’s father (Ricardo Darin) is clearly more confused, loves his child deeply, and is angry when his wife invites a surgeon friend to stay at their house.
In many ways XXY contains all the expected aspects of a coming of age film: a fight between best friends, tension with the parents, first love interests and sexual exploration. But constantly aware of Alex’s biological situation, the film is more awkward and uncomfortable to watch than any of the more formulaic films of this genre. The cameras record the sparse landscapes, and the evocative scenes and dialogue with equal attention to detail.
XXY, with the right balance of subtlety and explicitness, is certainly difficult to watch, but is as rewarding, intriguing and eye-opening a film as anyone could hope for. It undoubtedly deserves its Cannes International Critics Week Grand Prize.