Queerty‘s back at LA’s LGBT film festival Outfest catching the latest in contemporary queer cinema. Our film review coverage kicks off with a look at a violent depiction of New York Riqueno family relationship between a machismo ex-con father, his transgender teenage son, and the mother who loves them both.
WHAT’S THE STORY?: When Enrique (Esai Morales) gets out of prison, he returns home to the Bronx to discover that his wife Angela (Judy Reyes) has grown emotionally distant and that his son Michael (trans-actress Harmony Santana) moonlights as the beautiful spoken word poet Vanessa. Torn between torn fighting for his family the only violent way he knows how and loving them Enrique will have to face up to the way he sees Michael and himself.
IS IT ANY GOOD?: Yes. Shot-for-shot and line-for-line every scene in Rashaad Ernesto Green’s first feature brims with violent emotional beauty and humor. As Vanessa navigates sex with a possible boyfriend, Enrique rolls with his gangster friends, and Angela tries to end her affair, every riveting interaction carries the uncomfortable potential for redemption or devastation. Ms. Santana proves the film’s most heartbreaking actress as you see Michael-cum-Vanessa navigate a harrowing world of school bullies, unlicensed medical procedures, and sexual abuse at the hands of her schoolmates, friends, and even her own father—truly an amazing performance!
RATING: Four out of five stolen bras – Outfest’s 2010 breakout trans-film was Jake Yuzna’s Open. Gun Hill Road‘s astounding performances surpasses Open. Yeah, not everyone will like the ending, but think of it as Sin Nombre meets Edge of Seventeen with an intensely satisfying transgender core.