Something Blue

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Letting go of a child is never easy. As his eldest daughter prepares for her wedding day, Paul (Peter Lloyd) thinks back over his experiences as a parent. In particular, he thinks of his younger child, Charlie, and his struggle to come to terms with Charlie's self-identification. Raising a girl can be fraught with difficulties, especially if you had thought you were raising a boy.

Aside from those scheduled for theatrical and DVD release, I get sent a lot of films by directors who are just starting out. Many are hopeless but every now and then I have the good fortune to encounter something special. Something Blue is a wee gem of a film, beautifully shot and directed with remarkable assurance. The story may be fairly simple (though it sets out to challenge expectations nonetheless), but excellent performances make it well worth watching.

Of particular interest is director Fortune's decision, after an open casting call, to cast her own daughter (Elinor Machen Fortune) as Charlie. The younger Fortune draws on her own experiences of autism to create a sense of disconnectedness about her character that powerfully evokes that experienced by many transsexual people. The central scene of confrontation with her father has real emotional punch as both characters are believable and sympathetic. Peter is a man any parent can identify with, out of his depth and making mistakes but still trying to do the right thing. He's naturally afraid of what might happen to Charlie in a hostile world, but underlying this is the more general feel that it's always harder to protect a daughter than a son; and when trouble comes, it has its roots in male attitudes to women as well as in transphobia.

Transgender viewers will welcome this thoughtful film about rites of passage that are still rarely discussed. Other viewers may find it helps them get their heads around a complex issue without ever seeming preachy or dry. It's an unapologetically emotive film, easy to engage with and beautiful to look at. It bodes very well indeed for the director's forthcoming move into feature length work.

Reviewed on: 10 Nov 2011
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A father recalls his struggle to cope with his child's transsexualism.
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Director: Rebekah Fortune

Writer: Peter Machen

Starring: Peter Lloyd, Elinor Machen Fortune, Emma Britton, Victoria Newlyn, Oliver Stark

Year: 2011

Runtime: 16 minutes

Country: UK

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