A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.
In a small coastal town of fishermen in Uruguay, the biologist Kraken works and lives in a house at the sea side with his wife Suli and their aggressive fifteen year-old daughter Alex. When Suli welcomes her former best friend Erika that comes with her husband, the surgeon Ramiro and their teenage son Alvaro to spend a couple of days with her family, Kraken learns that his wife invited Ramiro to operate Alex. Meanwhile Alex and Alvaro feel attracted by each other; however, Alvaro finds that Alex is hermaphrodite and she finds that Alvaro is gay. But the troubled and outcast Alex has the right to choose what gender she wants for her. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
On September 27, 2007, XXY was chosen to represent Argentina at the Oscars, for the Best Foreign Language Film category. In a rare sweep, it was also chosen to represent Argentina at Spain's Goya Awards, for Best Foreign Film in Spanish. The tradition has been for two separate films to be sent to one of the awards each. The runner-up this year, in both cases, was La señal, also starring (and co-directed by) Ricardo Darín. See more »
In the scene that Alex, Alvaro and Vando are smoking and drinking by the fire, the bottle that is left next to Alvaro when the other two are peeing moves from his left to his right between camera switches. See more »
First there was Sofia Coppola, who made her directorial debut with the all but safe Virgin Suicides. Now Lucìa Puenzo, another in-bred filmmaker (her father is one of Argentina's most famous directors), has chosen an even more uncomfortable subject for her first steps behind the camera, and the result is a beautiful, bold and oddly touching picture.
Much of the movie's power derives from the astounding central performance by Inés Efron, who plays the troubled Alex, a 15-year old girl living in a village by the sea in Uruguay. It was her father, marine biologist Kraken (Ricardo Darìn) who decided to move there from Buenos Aires, and for a good reason: his daughter suffers from a rare and frankly embarrassing medical condition, the nature of which is hinted at in the title. It has already caused her to break her best friend's nose, and more problems will come as the family receives an unexpected visit from a surgeon and his young son Alvaro, with whom Alex embarks on an awkward relationship.
XXY tackles a delicate issue with great care, allowing both sides to speak their mind (although the movie isn't really about taking sides) and addressing the problem without trivializing it. Most surprisingly, it doesn't get as explicit as other films with similar themes (Boys Don't Cry comes to mind), except for the wonderfully shocking climax (in every sense) of one of Alex's encounters with Alvaro. It's a scene of unexpected poignancy, especially considering the contrast between the brutality of that moment and Alex's visible vulnerability. Therein lies the movie's core: it is not a traditional teen story, nor is it a conventional issue picture; at its center we have a person who is seemingly unable to accept herself, as well as her complex bonds with other people.
It is those connections that the director analyzes with startling precision in the second half, with particular attention to the way the two kids relate with their fathers (close-ups are very important here, as the devastated looks on the great actors' faces act as a counterbalance to the seductive landscape). And there lies the biggest shock: Alex and Kraken, despite the difficulties they're going through, manage to get closer, while Alvaro's apparently perfect life is shattered in a brief, bleak lesson of cynicism from his old man. As a matter of fact, that might be too much: that scene is just a little too cold, too cruel to really feel at home in the picture. However, the rest of XXY holds up in an almost perfect way, with its strong story, affecting cast and an open ending which, despite being frustrating at first, makes perfect sense: this kind of story cannot really end.
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