xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
When a taboo leaves the margins and inserts itself into our cultural vocabulary, it takes some time before movies can deftly address it. "Pédale Douce," a 1996 French comedy about a gay bar and its patrons, felt like a checklist of LGBT hot topics: being in the closet to the point of pretending you're in an "opposite marriage"; surrogate pregnancy; the straight women who accept you; the straight men who don't; drag shows; leather studs; and AIDS. It showed the dinner parties and house parties and club parties; never a conversation where the LGBT thing doesn't come up.
Going into "Laurence Anyways," I hoped it wouldn't be a laundry list of transgender issues. Not because we shouldn't deal with them, but because we won't until they're sold to us as non-issues. I'm not giving anything away by saying "Laurence Anyways" is about a transgender woman. And though that element is central to the story, writer and director Xavier Dolan trusts us to assume that transwoman Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) will face discrimination. So rather than linger on inevitabilities, "Laurence Anyways" instead zeroes in on the impact of transgender on a relationship, and tries to understand what makes two people stay together or fall apart.
Almost right away, Laurence tells his long-time girlfriend Fred (Suzanne Clément) that he is a woman trapped in a man's body and wants to transition to the gender he was bereft of. Fred doesn't bite. "Everything I love about you is what you hate about yourself," she says. "That's everything you love about me?" Laurence asks.
Is gender what we love about another person? The film briefly introduces us to another couple, where one woman is transitioning to become a man. His girlfriend was a lesbian before, but she's sticking it out. "I love the person, not the body," she tells Fred, one-upping her. Just as Laurence can't help wanting to become a woman, Fred is naturally attracted to men, but she decides to give it a go anyway. Fred loves Laurence, the person, which seems like a good place to start.