DVD Review – Tomboy

Tomboy premiered at the Toronto film festival and it was instantly controversial. It’s about a hitman who involuntarily is given gender reassignment surgery.  It was accused of being “transphobic” and all this crazy stuff when in reality it’s a fairly pro-transgender trashy b-movie.

Michelle Rodriguez plays Frank Kitchen who is hired to kill the brother of Dr. Rachel Kay (Sigourney Weaver) who then in an act of revenge performs a gender reassignment operation on Frank. He soon goes on a rampage of revenge when he finds out the operation is irreversible. It’s partly told through flashback with Rachel who is now in a mental hospital talking to another shrink played by Tony Shalhoub. Rachel partly did the surgery as an experiment to find out how much physical identity matters when it comes to gender.

Walter Hill who directed cult classics like The Warriors, The Driver etc. had been working on a version of Tomboy since the time he made those classic films. He eventually did a graphic novel version of the script under the alternative the title The Assignment which is the US title. The film certainly comes out of a sensationalist pulpy tradition which is what Hill’s best films come from.

Michelle Rodriguez who hasn’t starred in a film in quite a number of years is perfectly cast as Frank Kitchen, because she has both a strong masculinity and femininity needed for the role. Sigourney Weaver is having an absolute blast with totally chewing the scenery and quoting Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. She even has a speech about how gender is in the mind which should calm the outrage that trans-activists had over the film who of course never watched it.

Overall it’s a perfectly decent 90 minutes of pulpy thrills that is political correct despite what some activists claimed. The two main performances are strong even if the film somewhat feels like a late TV movie on some freeview channel you stumble upon. It’s interesting to compare it to Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In which uses a similar plot but lacked the outrage that Tomboy received, maybe he got a free pass because he is a gay filmmaker?

★★★

Ian Schultz

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