Morrer como um homem
Portugal/France, 2009, 134 minutes
Sat, May 01 / 9:00 / Clay / TODI01Y
Mon, May 03 / 12:15 / Kabuki / TODI03Y
Tue, May 04 / 6:15 / Kabuki / TODI04Y
When middle-aged Lisbon drag queen Tonia (Fernando Santos) ponders a full sex change, her best friend questions whether she wants the operation for herself or to please her young junkie boyfriend, Rosario (Alexander David). In truth, the decision to have surgery or not is part of a bigger identity crisis brought on by, among other things, a curvy younger spotlight-stealer at the nightclub where Tonia has long reigned, and the reappearance of her estranged soldier son, full of rage and internalized homophobia. More disturbing, Tonia’s silicone implants are leaking, her infected breasts distributing poison through her body. As her health falters, the transsexual who has long lived as a woman faces the possibility of dying as a man. The idea of biology as destiny is given a provocative slant in João Pedro Rodrigues’s extravagant, darkly funny and ultimately moving melodrama. With her blonde wig and stout dimensions, Tonia resembles John Waters’ late muse, Divine, while the tragic air she carries could be cribbed from Dark Victory–era Bette Davis. In a surreal rural sequence that culminates in a spectacular red lunar eclipse, Tonia and drag diva friend Maria hunt the mythical snipe, but the most mythical creature in the woods might be Tonia herself as she straddles male and female worlds. The performer so accustomed to mouthing the mournful lyrics of the Portuguese fado could write her own: an elegy to a personality pulled in two directions.
Presented in association with Frameline.