Movie Review: WAJOOD (SELFHOOD) (India) LGBT, Drama/Romance

Played at the June 2017 LGBT Toronto Film Festival

Directed by Vishal Srivastava

Revolves around a young hijra’s (trans-woman) life, who seems to fancy herself with an auto-rickshaw driver. When confronted by the elders of her community about her unrealistic expectations, she goes on a quest to know if somebody will ever fall in love with her or is this thought as naive as told by everyone around her? 

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Review by Kierston Drier

WAJOOD, or Selfhood, is a powerful short coming to us from Indian by director Vishal Srivastava. Bright with colors and boasting gorgeous cinematography, this piece sheds light on a little known part of Indian culture. The Hijra, known as the Third Gender, are a community of transwomen who are often misunderstood and shunned in society.

Yet WAJOOD takes a look at this section of society kind, compassionate and sensitive eyes. We follow our heroine through her emotional journey of dissecting her sense of self. She pines for the attractive rickshaw driver near her community, and wakes every morning to watch him. But her community members remind her that there is no future for people like herself. Her fate has been determined- she is not to be understood, and not to find conventional love. Her life, will be a lonely one. Yet a kind stranger will change her mind about what it means to be who she is.

What make WAJOOD special is it’s bravery. It tackles a topic worthy of discussion, about a group deserving of attention. More than that, it stands before adversity and shouts for recognition. But it will charm you as it does so. It will charm you with its stunning images, it’s entrancing music and it’s’ undeniably lovable and sympathetic main character.

If you watch WAJOOD, you may not identify with my main character right away, but you will love her. WAJOOD reminds us that we are far more similar that we are different.


Movie Review: THE 3RD TRY (USA) LGBT, Drama

Played at the June 2017 LGBT Toronto Film Festival

Directed by Alfonso Rodriguez

An emotionally unstable lesbian couple tries to find solace after experiencing a traumatic loss.

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Review by Kierston Drier

In 5 short minutes, this USA film directed by Alfonso Rodriguez will pull you in, break your heart and fill you with hope. Efficient, cutting and a packing a home-run in right in the “feels” The 3rd Try is nothing short of breath taking in its simplicity.

We barely know our main characters, except that they are couple desperate to turn their loving union into a bigger family, but for whatever reason they are never able to have a child.

Part of what is excellent about this piece, is that is not weighed down with expositional, and unnecessary dialogue. It doesn’t tell you what is exactly causing the couple’s’ pain- just that, once again, they are not having the baby they were hoping for.

It is a pain not exclusive to the LGTB community, but a pain certainly not foreign to the community either. The hope, joy, anxiety, disappointment and pain associated with expectation and loss of a child is universal. That is one of the strongest parts of this piece- anyone who has ever contemplated the love and loss of anticipated parenthood is included in this couples tragedy.

But what sets this film above others is its unquestioning resilience. Every tragedy must include hope. And this piece does not fail to deliver that either.

If you have a heart, The 3rd Try will move you. Exceptionally well acted and exquisitely cast, beautifully simply and utterly impactful, this is a film not to miss.


Movie Review: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST (Canada 2016) **

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portrait_of_a_serial_monogamistPORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST (Canada 2014) **
Directed by Christina Zeidler and John Michell

Starring: Robin Duke, Masa Lizdek, Grace Lynn Kung

Review by Gilbert Seah

This spritely romantic relationship comedy is exactly what the title promises. It is the story of monogamist, Elsie (Diane Flacks), in her thirties who cannot, no matter how much she tries change her ways. A slight twist to the story is that Elsie is a lesbian.

When the film begins, Elsie has just broken up with her girlfriend, Robyn (Carolyn Taylor). Robyn has not taken the breakup too easily. It is tough for them to remain friends without fighting.

Meanwhile, Elsie has a fling or two while trying to survive her job was aTV producer after a corporate takeover. She is offered advice from friends and family. As the saying goes: “Everyone has a advice and everyone is full of sh**”

That is basically what the entire film is about. It is pretty boring for those who cannot connect with the main character. Whether one does depends, but to Flacks, credit, she is not a bad actress.

The film is shot in Toronto and the directors are proud of the fact. Torontonians will recognize familiar sights like the local streets, streetcars and buildings. The film also showcases local musical and art talent.

Diane Flacks inhabits her role comfortably, passing off as a desperate lesion trying not to be desperate. She creates a likeable character and a very human one. She is pretty though not overtly pretty and smart, though human enough to make mistakes and smart enough to recognize them. She takes a little time to figure out what she wants. In other words, she is a normal person, a nice Jewish girl from Toronto (as she describes herself) in the ordinary sense. Of the supporting cast, Robin Duke stands out as Elsie’s mother, a nice Jewish woman from Montreal.

The film ends up an ok watch, but there is nothing exceptional about the film, which is a shame. Everyone tries very hard, as is evident in the last scene of the cat funeral. During the cat funeral, Elsie and Robyn have it out amidst the ceremony. It is definitely a far-fetched scene that is funny at parts, but feels too artificial.

There are no sex scenes, thanks goodness for that! The actresses are pretty but not sexy enough that the audience would like to watch them doing it in the nude. The kissing scenes are sufficient and short.

PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST, made in 2014 finally reaches the big screen after making its round across the country’s LGBT festival circuit. The film is unlikely to become a big hit, but its target audience is clearly the LGBT festival audience and maybe the local Toronto art scene.

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