Blurred Lines

Blurred Lines


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Identity can be a tricky thing. We recognise and categorise one another primarily by our faces. But what happens when a face just doesn't reflect the person inside and no amount of make-up or accessories can change that?

Films such as Face/Off have explored that fantasy of changing perceived identity by changing a face. This is the reality. Alexis, a black-clad vegan who works in a tattoo parlour, is about to undergo facial surgery. She'll have her trachea shaved and her whole face remodelled to make it more feminine. Alexis is transgender. She doesn't feel completely male or female but relates more to the latter. She wants her face to reflect that so that she can go about her daily business with people respecting her identity, less likely to harass her.

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Television has touched on this topic before but this is the first time it's been approached in a short film with so much input from the subject. Parts of the film take the form of a video diary. Although the low budget shows, the production side of it has been handled well and the crew have gained impressive access to the Belgian hospital facilities where Alexis is treated. The use of static shots to illustrate the surgical process is a smart move, actually making it easier to follow what's happening, whilst reducing the gore factor. Interspersed with the practical details of the procedure are little insights into Alexis' life - the simple but touching message she records for her mum in case something goes wrong; her mum's teasing about how she can now join the ranks of fat women, given her swollen post-surgery visage.

This is a simple, understated film, more effective for its ordinariness. It's interesting to see plastic surgery explored as a pragmatic life choice, not sensationalised. A bit more detail about how the surgical procedures work might have been nice - Alexis is clearly already familiar with a medical approach that may be confusing to the uninitiated - but the short running time suits the story well. This is an impressive early effort from producer Amelia Abraham.

Reviewed on: 24 Jul 2012
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A short documentary about facial reconstruction surgery.

Director: Joseph Wilson

Starring: Alexis Raven Bathory, Deb Thompson, Bart Van De Ven

Year: 2012

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: UK


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