Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

Lady Bird


Lady Bird

It covers the ground many trans women can't talk about, myself included, and I was reluctant to watch this film, and confront a past narrative that I'll sadly never share. Lady Bird is a coming-of-age movie in which Saoirse Ronan's Christine – aka self-styled Lady Bird – experiences the travails of her senior high school year, with boys and best friends, and most of all her parents. Her gentle father is unemployed and sinking into depression; her mother is highly strung and hyper critical, and unable to cut her slack. The real tragedy, in fact, is the mother's. By the end, it's clear it's the mother who suffers from her own damaging inability to accept her daughter's character, while Christine herself is going to be okay. It's Christine who's strong, has initiative, and of course it will help that she's played as a good-looking, charismatic figure. While we're shown repeatedly that Christine struggles academically, her savvy intelligence is never in question. Is this even a flaw of the film? Are high school students this emotionally strong and consistent, and mothers in contrast so fragile? In this story it's the daughter who ultimately has the emotional maturity to mend relationships, including the one with her uptight mother.

Like Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri, this movie directed by Greta Gerwig is difficult to critique without giving much away, and also because there's little to critique - beyond the dismayingly uneven qualities assigned between daughter and mother. Well-crafted and nicely paced, for example, moments of gentle comedy punctuate the film throughout, not least between the teachers at the Catholic school where Christine studies. One particular scene involving a guest speaker warning against the evils of abortion produces arguably the biggest, shocking laugh. It's an indication of how Gerwig has successfully melded complex themes of sex and identity into this tricky backdrop of adolescence.

But given that all the critics are praising this film anyway, what of my trans-female reaction?

It's true that the dynamics of mother-daughter are under the spotlight, and the cis-gendered female friend I watched this film with told me that much of this film resonates for her. As an adolescent boy – in the closet about being trans – my own dynamics with my mother were different and continue to be now; the competitiveness and pessimism of the mother for her daughter in Lady Bird isn't something I'm familiar with. My relationship with my father, now more than ever, is more complex in the expectations involved, and as for my siblings . . . but let's not go there. Regardless, the past is the past, and adolescence is no golden age to pine for unless your adult life is so seriously shit. What Lady Bird reminds me is how adolescence is about survival and the obsessive illusion of sex-as-Holy-Grail, but unlike my friend, my heart went out to the tortured mother played by Laurie Metcalf. As wrong as some of her reactions are, the tenderness of her vulnerability is what stayed with me long after the film had finished, and it's for that reason – the complex, intense, sometimes lonely fucked-upness of being a mother - that you'll connect with this film and empathize with it, regardless of whether you're cis-gendered or trans.
The Square
Black Panther


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Captcha Image

My Latest Posts

June 15, 2018

Anxiety Dreams and the Cisgender Label

Anxiety Dreams and the Cisgender Label I know it's bad form to talk about one's dreams but I'd like to start this post by talking about how I woke up in darkness last night, after an evolving, unpleasant, anxiety dream about being trans. In the first half of the dream, people saw me in a nice apartment, and wanted to take it for themselves because ...
June 09, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Darker and more disturbing than any Jurassic Park film before, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an epic, popcorn movie that channels our pessimistic current zeitgeist, leaving me to leave the cinema with a feeling of unease. I watched this film and thought of the way the real world is going, with a feeling of dread. ...
June 03, 2018

The Breadwinner

  The Breadwinner Afghanistan. The Taliban. A youthful female protagonist, gender-bending for the sake of her family's survival. The Breadwinner is a hypnotic, enchanting animation that has, at its core, the tensest of dynamics, sometimes re-calibrated with kaleidoscopic colours and emotions. Mixing brutal realities with recurring fa...
June 03, 2018

On loving a film that others hate

  On loving a film that others hate Instead of going to the cinema yesterday, I stayed in with my flatmate to watch a film I really like, High Fidelity (2000). How to describe the 'oh shit' moment when you realize a film you recommended is going down really badly with the other person? Following the ending, my flatmate spoke of it as if emergi...
May 30, 2018

Star Wars Spirituality

  Star Wars Spirituality I'm sitting on a plane as it's rising; it hits the clouds, breaking through, and the tension in my shoulders gives way to the smile across my face. Sunshine glistening against my window, with fields of cloud below me as far as I can see. I sit back, waiting to sip at the plastic see-through cup of blood-red wine. A hun...
May 27, 2018

Excluded by Julia Serano

in Books

Excluded by Julia Serano When she poetry-slams , the conviction and the eloquence Julia Serano possesses as a writer is there for all to see. Her style of fierce, funny, thoughtful insights is also present in Excluded (2013), arguably Serano's transgender manifesto, with a particular focus on issues of trans exclusion and commun...
May 27, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

  Solo: A Star Wars Story Growing up as a Star Wars fanatic, my favourite character was Han, the reluctant Star Wars hero who grounded the original trilogy with a cynical humanity. Luke and Leia were just too perpetually honourable to have arcs: only Han, you felt, might genuinely have contemplated a descent into the Dark Side. Such darkness i...
May 20, 2018

Transgender Art: Metanoia

Transgender Art: Metanoia Transgender art comes around rarely, I've found, or perhaps I just haven't felt touched by it before. One of the most famous trans artists, Del LaGrace Volcano , is the kind I don't feel drawn to, images of the artist all gurning and grotesque, seeming to depend on shock and incongruity. Their work for me prompts thes...
May 20, 2018

London: Digital Identities Conference

  London: Digital Identities Conference 18.05.18 Presenting at a conference on deprived sleep is like wandering Peruvian forests on Ayahuasca The last few days have seen me emerging from hypnotic tortures of sleep deprivation, of days blurring into nights blurring into dawns and hotel breakfasts. Train journeys taking me to speak at a conferen...