2007 // Argentina // Lucía Puenzo // November 13, 2009 // Theatrical Print (Landmark Plaza Frontenac Cinema)
High-profile films that address intersexuality are few and far between—When will HBO ever pull together that rumored Middlesex adaptation?—and so it's no small thing when a work like XXY comes along, which tackles the reality with commendable sensitivity and frankness. Director Puenzo takes her sweet time uncoiling the story of Alex, an adolescent intersexual who has been living as a girl in an Argentine seaside town. The story is a slight little thing, and it's hard to shake the disappointment that Puenzo didn't do a little more with the subject than offer a slice of Alex's life at a critical juncture in the development of her identity and sexuality. Furthermore, the concessions to melodrama—a gratuitous rape scene especially—make the film less potent, not more. Still, XXY is poignant and appropriately anxious in tone, and its principal characters are full of subtly conveyed intricacies that elevate it beyond a crude coming-out story (of sorts). Puenzo utilizes a richly presented sun-bleached aesthetic and a prominent marine life motif to fine effect. The film's emotional success, however, lies principally with a Inés Efron, who at twenty-two plays the fifteen-year-old Alex with a riveting blend of boldness, anger, and vulnerability.