Palatable: XXY

XXY (2007)
Directed by Lucía Puenzo
Written by Sergio Bizzio, Lucía Puenzo
Produced by Luis Puenzo, José María Morales, Carla Pelligra, Fernando Sirianni, Fabienne Vonier
Starring Inés Efron, Ricardo Darín, Martín Piroyansky, Valeria Bertuccelli, Germán Palacios, Carolina Pelleritti, Guillermo Angelelli, Ailín Salas, Luciano Nóbile
Had this movie been produced but six or seven years ulterior, at the advent of a transmania aggressively propagandized by mass media outlets in the western hemisphere, it might not have enjoyed global distribution, for Puenzo’s straight, sympathetic treatment of the gynandromorphic condition belies every delusional jeremiad loudly publicized via social media by pre-op lunatics and a minority of legitimately transsexual exhibitionists fomented by this wholly calculated craze. At their home on the Uruguayan seashore, the family of a froward, adolescent androgyne (Efron) is, for an invitation by her mother (Bertuccelli), visited by an imperious, accomplished cosmetic surgeon (Palacios) with his wife (Pelleritti) and sensitive son (Piroyansky), whose fleeting friendship with the huffy hermaphrodite enables an unusual exploration of their inchoate sexuality. Otherwise, this visitation broaches the ineludible question of whether she’ll submit to sexual assignment after abjuring antiandrogens for weeks, an option that her father (Darín), a marine biologist, opposes in concern for her welfare. As directorial forays come, this adaptation of Bizzio’s short story finds Argentine cinema’s most fortunate daughter living up to her father’s reputation by capably balancing subjective compassion with the indisputable medical and social consequences of a fascinating chromosomal anomaly. Dialogue’s nearly as minimal here as in her future pictures, and tyros Efron and Piroyansky were as histrionically consummate as old stagers Darín, Palacios, Pelleritti, Bertuccelli, et al., all subtly expressive in complete characterizations, especially during gazing and glancing caesurae. Her composition and continuity are as professional as Puenzo’s direction of her cast; alas, Natasha Braier’s cinematography, which includes sweeping vistas of the southern cone’s seacoast and offing, is uglified by the applications of green and blue filters. Satisfyingly, Bizzio’s conclusion affirms biological primacy and deliberated discretion over suspect medical trends. Maybe nature’s irregularities aren’t always errors.

Efron and Salas were effectively recast in Puenzo’s second feature, The Fish Child.

Palatable: The Fish Child

The Fish Child (2009)
Written and directed by Lucía Puenzo
Produced by José María Morales, Luis Puenzo, Charles Gillibert, Cristian Izzi, Marin Karmitz, Nathanaël Karmitz, Claire Dornoy, Miguel Morales, Fernando Sirianni
Starring Inés Efron, Mariela Vitale, Pep Munné, Diego Velázquez, Arnaldo André, Carlos Bardem, Julián Doregger
Murder’s incidental to certain concurrences of jealousy, abhorrence and amor, as when a contentious judge (Munné) penning allegedly inculpatory memoirs is found greased after imbibing a poisoned potation by a primary suspect, his pretty Guarani maid and sometime fucktoy (Vitale), who (unbeknownst to her employer or investigating police in his wake) had connived to abscond from her situation with his teenage daughter (Efron), a flight instigated by their true love and underwritten by fencing their household’s valuables. Perforce less pleasing than her precedent XXY, Puenzo’s sophomore feature’s produced and actualized with equal gracility, anomalously accessible for anachrony and unraveling elegantly to disbosom woeful enigmata adumbrated by folkloric hearsay while limning its lesbian lovers. Her cast underplay expressively, by countenance conveying more than with dialogue; without misstep, the leads emanate prickly passions hobbled by stealth and exploitation, and André’s outstanding as a whilom pop singer, the domestic’s estranged father haunted by his daughter’s absence. Serviceable as both a love story and crime drama, Puenzo’s adaptation of her novel attests an authorial and aesthetic superiority to her father Luis; she’s sadly as unnoted (beyond the bourn of her native Argentina) as every female director more concerned with artistry than politics.