When it comes to the arts, men dressing as women is certainly nothing new. Beyond the early theatrical conventions that bared women from the stage, thus requiring a certain amount of gender bending in the cast. It has from ancient history to our more recent blockbuster era been a quick, easy and always reliable comedic device. Men in a dress = funny seems to be the overwhelming belief in Hollywood. Thank Goddess for other countries. Specifically that lovely isle in the Atlantic.
Just Like a Woman isn’t Tootsie or Mrs Doubtfire or even Rocky Horror Picture Show. What it is, is a sincere, heartfelt, honest(if optimistic) look at the lives of Transvestites and the women who love them. It might be a bit dated(early 90’s), in dress as well as plot twists, but the performances are top notch and far exceed the occasionally thin dialog. Julie Walters(grand dame of British film who I recognized from Educating Rita and more recently Calendar Girls) and Adrian Pasdar(SO pretty and he’s done a bunch of stuff most recently, Nathan Petrelli, the flying politician from Heroes).
*possible spoiler alert*
They do such a wonderful job handling the topic but what really nailed it for me(pun alert) were the two sex scenes. The first with Gerald and Monica, pre-revelation and the second between them post revelation. The first is almost comical with its stereotypical, missionary-position, head-hitting-head-board action. But after Gerald “reveals” himself to his new lover and friend, they make love as Geraldine and Monica. The scene is perfect soft core sensuality. If you are a man who enjoys dressing as a woman or a woman who likes to play with such exotic creatures the scene has the appropriate effect. For everyone else, the scene, and the film as a whole, will hopefully engender a bit more understanding for this incredibly common inclination.
You can read a full plot synopsis here as well as a number of other people’s reviews:
But here’s what my playmate Birthday Boy (who received it as gift for our shared holiday) had to say:
Dearest Mistress Katherine,
Thank you so much for the wonderful movie DVD. I enjoyed
watching it, both for its open portrayal of transvestitism and for its
artful presentation of the characters. Although I found the leading man somewhat
over the top in his ability to switch from man to women, I found myself at
times very envious of his willingness to be both a successful
business man during the day, and a sexy TV at night. And I just fell in love with
Julie Walters (both in character, and out). I loved the ending with him
coming out, slamming his asshole boss, and all the supporting
characters hugging, and kissing together. If only real life was this simple. There
were many common cords between me, and the leading man, and I was simply
mesmerized from the moment I started to watch the film, until it ended. Thank
you so much for such a thoughtful gift.
I can’t recommend this film more highly for anyone for whom this topic resonates. I bought my copy off Amazon and it was an import with Portuguese packaging. I think a VHS copy might be easier to track down.
Speaking of topics handled with unexpected grace and sensitivity. I know there’s been a number of awards handed out for this flick so most of you probably know that it is NOT as crude and/or pornographic as the basic plot structure might imply. Though Lars and the Real Girl is still billed as comedy, it wasn’t a laugh out loud kinda funny for me at any point. Which might have been because it would have felt like I was laughing at the characters instead of with them. They were all just so damn human, even the freakin doll! I wanted to hug everyone in this movie(except the doll, who did creep me out a bit). Just as Lars uses Bianca as a tool for growth, the films creators use her as very effective device. Bianca is not the true obstacle for Lars or his community. He is an unconventional person who is simply trying to find a way to make love work for the person he is, while his community must learn how to reach out and give him the love and acceptance he needs in a way he can understand and absorb. Yeah, its a bit of a misty making fairy tale, but art IS meant to inspire. And what’s more inspiring then unconditional love.