Reviewed by: Jane Fae

"This is a film of contrasts."

Notwithstanding its trappings of trans whoredom, Roxanne is basically a fairy story and morality tale wrapped into one heart-warming short. It comes complete with lost girl, evil step-parent and fairy godmother, albeit in the unlikely form of a transgender sex worker.

Lily (Thea Lamb) is an 11-year-old girl who has been abandoned, for reasons unspecified, by her mother. Seeking shelter in a nearby building, Roxanne (Miss Cairo) initially throws her back out onto the street and then later intervenes when she spies two men attempting to take Lily away by force.

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But, as the saying goes, “If you save a life, you are responsible for it”, and the remainder of the film is a deft working out of the relationship that takes root in Lily and Roxanne's mutual teasing – then blooms as Roxanne perceives Lily to be once more in danger. The dialogue is amusing, a study in smart banter, and well-delivered, and the relationship believable.

This is a film of contrasts. On the one hand, Roxanne's life of sleaze and danger, denoted by a driving music score and dark fragmented camerawork; on the other, their growing friendship that takes place for the most part in the full light of day.

The moral: there be monsters! And those who cannot rely on society to protect them, may yet find some refuge in solidarity with other outcasts.

Neatly done, although, if I have a criticism, it is in the film's use of a trope, a cliché all too common when dealing with trans issues, trans people – which is the trans sex worker, with a heart of gold. Because, sure, trans sex workers exist and, in a society that frequently fails to provide support, sex work is sometimes the only way to survive. But this is far from true for all – and it would be nice, sometimes, to see other alternatives explored. Still, a competent, positive short.

Reviewed on: 16 Mar 2017
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A transgender sex worker takes an abandoned young girl under her wing.

Director: Paul Frankl

Writer: Paul Frankl

Starring: Miss Cairo, Thea Lamb, Caroline Partridge

Year: 2016

Runtime: 14 minutes

Country: UK


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