×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

XXY

The psychological fallout from alternative sexualities is explored to subtle and penetrating effect.

With:
With: Ricardo Darin, Ines Efron, Martin Piroyanski, German Palacios, Valeria Bertuchelli, Carolina Pelereti, Luciano Nobile. (Spanish dialogue)

The psychological fallout from alternative sexualities is explored to subtle and penetrating effect in Lucia Puenzo’s “XXY,” a study of teen angst that’s grounded in more than simply nebulous emotion. Pic has more in common with standard child-parent conflict dramas than it would probably care to admit, but its sensitive treatment of an equally sensitive theme elevates it into something memorable. Only drawbacks are some clumsy symbolism and a slight tendency to be overly schematic. Plenty of fest exposure beckons for Puenzo’s debut movie in which, unusually, accomplishment matches ambition.

Along with her parents, marine biologist Kraken (Ricardo Darin) and Suli (Valeria Bertuchelli), teen Alex (Ines Efron) has left Argentina for Uruguay. Despite the title’s foreshadowing, we have to wait a while before discovering the reasons for the family’s move and Alex’s obviously alienated state: s/he’s a hermaphrodite.

Alex, having reached puberty, must decide about her future. But any decision is complicated by the arrival of family friends, plastic surgeon Ramiro (German Palacios), Erika (Carolina Pelereti), and their toothy son, Alvaro (Martin Piroyanski). No sooner have they arrived than Alex is proposing outright to Alvaro that they have sex together.

Meanwhile, Alex has broken the nose of local boy Vando (Luciano Nobile) for casting aspersions on his sexuality. After a grueling scene in which Alex is near-raped by a gang of Vando’s friends, Kraken jumps to Alex’s defense. When Alvaro finally takes Alex up on the offer of sex, they are caught in flagrante delicto by Kraken.

The split widens between the worlds of the adults, with their petty rivalries, and the kids, who are discovering themselves sexually (Alvaro is slowly realizing that he’s gay). It’s the kids, finally, who show greater flexibility in coming to terms with their identities.

All of this is communicated with the minimum of stylistic fuss — long shots in true New Argentine Cinema style, plenty of windy-beach atmospherics and dialogue that’s scant but emotion-rich (storyline proceeds through just a few intimate conversations). Technique is at its best during a lengthy nighttime beach scene in which Alex, Alvaro and Vando simply sit there for a couple of minutes, the air heavy with inexpressible emotions.

Perfs are fine, with Efron and Piroyanski in particular exploiting the subtleties of the script to gripping effect as their cat-and-mouse relationship develops. Efron’s ambiguous sexuality is never in doubt; Piroyaski evokes much sympathy.

Darin turns in a typically brooding perf as the father who wants the best for his child but is uncomfortable with the truth about Alex. Thesp shoulders one of pic’s key themes — how parents will claim to put their children’s interests first while hypocritically controlling their sex lives in accordance with their own fears and prejudices.

A couple of characters could have been shed without doing undue damage to either theme or plot: neither Ramiro nor Erika are able to punch their dramatic weight.

Gently offbeat score, mostly just a plucked harp, counterpoints mood nicely.

XXY

Spain-France-Argentina

Production: A Wanda Vision release (in Spain) of a Wanda Vision (Spain)/Pyramide Prods. (France)/Historias Cinematograficas (Argentina) production. (International sales: Pyramide Intl., Paris). Produced by Luis Puenzo, Jose Maria Morales. Executive producer, Fernando Sirianni. Directed, written by Lucia Puenzo.

Crew: Camera (color), Natasha Braier; editor, Alex Zito; art director, Roberto Samuelle; sound (Dolby Digital), Fernando Soldevilla. Reviewed at Image Film screening room, Madrid, May 3, 2007. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics' Week). Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Ricardo Darin, Ines Efron, Martin Piroyanski, German Palacios, Valeria Bertuchelli, Carolina Pelereti, Luciano Nobile. (Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and Bella (Amber)

    China's Bona Film Boards Brad Pitt's 'Ad Astra,' 'A Dog's Way Home' (EXCLUSIVE)

    China’s Bona Film Group is co-financing Brad Pitt space adventure “Ad Astra,” one of several films in a strong slate of international movies the company plans to release in the Middle Kingdom over the next year. Bona has also acquired Roland Emmerich’s war spectacular “Midway” and is investing in “A Dog’s Way Home,” the sequel [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Sets Pre-Sales Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” sets a pre-sales record, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits a milestone, and SAG-AFTRA promotes four executives.  PRE-SALES RECORD “Aquaman” has set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, topping “Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Black Panther.” More Reviews Film Review: 'The Quake' Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule' “Clearly, ‘Aquaman’ [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • The Quake Review

    Film Review: 'The Quake'

    Roar Uthaug’s 2015 “The Wave” revived the pleasures of the 1970s disaster-movie cycle in a form that seemed purer than the never-quite-dead genre’s recent Stateside incarnations — most of which seem to involve Dwayne Johnson in a generic pileup of CGI perils. “The Wave” wasn’t high art, but it was entertainment that delivered some standard [...]

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he plays best, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content