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
Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Captcha Image

My Latest Posts

October 05, 2019


October 05, 2019


Joker The trailer did its work, flashing images of anomie and fury perfectly pitched for these unstable times of precarious working conditions, grievance and institutional indifference. For these same reasons, Joker , directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist, has attracted pre-release criticisms like few other recen...
September 29, 2019

Resisting Whiteness event 2019

Resisting Whiteness one-day event, Edinburgh Returning for the second consecutive year, Resisting Whiteness came yesterday to the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh, providing an intense and inspiring series of panels, as well as a wonderful spoken word section, and a final segment based around the documentary short Invisible by internationally-acclaim...
August 21, 2019

Hearty by Emma Frankland

Hearty by Emma Frankland Raw and dripping with punk aesthetic, this one-woman-show's one-woman emerges in ripped tights and a T-shirt that paraphrases loudly the words of anti-trans theorist Germaine Greer: Lop Your Dick Off. My first impression of Emma Frankland is edgily uncertain and in awe, her Lady-Gaga-looks combined with Heath Ledger's mesme...
August 21, 2019

Pronoun, Pass, & Amnesty International

Transgender drama: Pronoun To be clear at the outset, this was the production of a youth theatre group, not a highly resourced team of experienced, professional career actors – although some of the performances left a powerful impression, and the show as a whole achieved some remarkable moments. Pronoun , written by Evan Placey, follows the transit...
August 13, 2019

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem It starts with a heartbeat, the dancer-directors Lizzie and Ayden in slow-motion entry, setting the scene of a nightclub featuring two young transgender bodies who are in fact multiple. Sound Cistem is theatrical dance set to a series of pulsing, dance-floor rhythms and the voices of several trans interviewees projec...
August 04, 2019

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles The blurring of human and machine reiterates here in a comedically surreal, startling performance by the performance poet Harry Josephine Giles. Drawing on visual and aural effects, Giles presents the disturbingly evocative middle-class arc of the life of an electronic, military drone. With Giles as both narrator and ...
August 03, 2019

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza Playing currently at the Traverse Theatre is Travis Alabanza's poignant and comic one-person show, a thought-provoking meditation created out of a jarring personal experience. Back in 2016, Alabanza, a non-binary person of colour, was abused in a London street, with a burger thrown at them by a stranger. The show's series...
August 03, 2019

While transphobes get more hateful, I become more freckly

While transphobes got more hateful, I became more freckly Written weeks after the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International There's nothing good to say, even the films I enjoyed watching this past week, Midsommar and Apollo 11 , I've lost the Sunday will to write. Perhaps Brexit Britain will become like the village cult in Midsommar , bu...
June 09, 2019

Dark Phoenix, John Wick 3, Godzilla: my reflections

Three fantasy movies within three days: X Men: Dark Phoenix; John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lacanian feminist Kaja Silverman says about cinema, we go because we need the affirmation, to see the things we hope to see and fail to see in the real world. In Lacanian-speak, Silverman says we go because 'the desire ...