As one of the largest Christian denominational entity in the U.S. supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people, the United Church of Christ produced this documentary about the life of Reverend Malcolm, a recently ordained young priest who during most of his lifetime was trapped in the body of Miriam. Focusing on trans-gendered people, the film gives great insight into the life of transsexuals and the many troubles they face after they achieve the sex change.
Narrated by Malcolm himself, the documentary follows him returning to his hometown as he describes his experiences after the change. We learn about his time in the seminary and how he decided to become a priest after he found a balance between his religious beliefs and his new self. Of great interest are his interviews with other trans-gendered people and their opinions and ideas about the change, as well as about the many conflicts they must endure in their quest to find their true persona such as the doubts when meeting someone who knew them before the change.
Despite being funded by a Christian denomination, the movie doesn't become a propaganda film for the church; on the contrary, it has a very humanistic approach and while faith and religion are themes of great importance in Malcolm's life, the movie is focused more on the social, emotional and psychological aspects of being trans-gendered. Even when the film has a very upbeat and optimist feeling, Malcolm's interviews with gay activists show that while we have progressed a lot, there's still much to do in the theme of equal rights for LGBT people.
In his first film as a director, Joseph Parlagreco makes a bold documentary that while simplistic technically, it's quite deep thematically. Despite being shot in a digital format, Parlagreco shows beautifully composed shots that showcase his past as a cinematographer, and while his lack of experience is evident, he makes a fine work that flows smoothly, never becoming dull, boring for the audience or disrespectful to its subject matter.
The movie rests completely on Malcolm's shoulders as he is both the subject and the conductor of the film, and he makes up a nice and charming host. He has a good domain of the screen and is never shy to give his point of view, and given that to be a preacher is his career choice, these traits will be very helpful for him in the future. Talking about Malcolm's future, it's interesting that neither Malcolm nor director Parlagreco put much emphasis on Malcolm's past, and instead focus on the way Malcolm sees his future life as a male now that he is finally able to be what he wants to be.
"Call Me Malcolm" is a nicely done and very well researched documentary, so basically its flaws are merely technical. While Parlagreco makes the best he can to make a beautiful looking movie, his choice of digital over film makes this difficult and more than once the film look like a badly lightened home video. Due to its low-budget budget, the film lacks the visual flare of modern day documentaries, but it compensates those flaws with a deep and touching message.
While not a perfect film by any means, "Call Me Malcolm" is definitely a must-see not only because of the humane, sensitive approach it takes on the subject of Transgenderism and a very recommended film to those wanting to have more insight on the subject. Maybe Malcolm didn't had a life as difficult as other transsexual people, but its nice to see that he is doing the best he can for giving the same opportunity to the rest of the community. 7/10. Very recommended.
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