Monday, April 22, 2024

Hollywood Goes Trans as Toronto Film Festival Offers Big Features on Subject


A couple of years ago he news was all about trans-fats.

Thanks to Caitlyn Jenner and Chelsea Manning, this year it’s all trans-gender.

At the Toronto Film Festival we had two features back to back on the subject on Saturday. First, “About Ray,” starring Elle Fanning as a teen girl who wants her mom (Naomi Watts) to sign the papers allowing gender reassignment. Her lesbian grandma (Susan Sarandon) is on the fence. Her deadbeat dad (Tate Donovan) is against it.

Then there’s “The Danish Girl,” with Eddie Redmayne as a Danish painter married to Alicia Vikander for six years before he decides that he’s a woman named Lily and must have sex change surgery.

No one remembers “Transamerica,” the excellent 2006 film starring Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman. It was ahead of its time.

At the “About Ray” screening in Toronto, there was less talk about the transgender teen– Elle Fanning in a super performance– and more about the affordable apartment she and her family live in on New York’s Lower East Side. Also, none of the characters seemed to have jobs. Tate Donovan’s character lived in an Architectural Digest house in leafy Westchester County.

“The Danish Girl” is the better made of the two films. Eddie Redmayne’s transformation into Lily makes for a psycho sexual thriller and tragedy that people will be talking about for a long time. It’s beautiful to look at, too, as the main characters live very very well. No mention is ever made of how these folks pay the bills either.

Funniest line backstage after “The Danish Girl” premiere. Redmayne’s wife of just a few months, Hannah, said: “We ran into Jessica Chastain. She’d seen the poster for The Danish Girl and worried people would think it was about her!” No worries- despite the passing resemblance between fictional Lily and real life Jessica, Chastain is far and away the greater beauty!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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