Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bob's New Suit

Bob (Hunter Bodine) and Steve
(Shay Astar) in Bob's New Suit.
Bob's New Suit, dir. Alan Howard, 2011 USA, 97 min.
Wed. 6/22 1:15p @ Castro, BOBS22C

Bob (Hunter Bodine) has finally proposed to his longtime girlfriend Jenny (Hayley DuMond) and is off to tell his parents the joyous news, but his sister Stephanie has some news of his own: he's decided to start living as a man, and wants to be called Steve (Shay Astar). On top of that, cousin George gets Bob and his dad mixed up in some shady business, and Dad has a secret past that is about to be unearthed. It's a recipe for a pretty decent comedy, but one where the transgender character is one of the players, not a stereotyped butt-of-all-jokes.
Shay Astar shines as Stephanie/Steve, deftly portraying the mixture of self-confidence and trepidation of a transman coming into himself but worrying about his parents' reaction. Unfortunately, Bob's character is more roughly hewn, with fits of temper that seem to appear out of nowhere and then dissipate at the drop of a hat. Without giving any spoilers, I also found the plot twist at the very end a bit of a jumble. The biggest ding, though, is the conceit that gives the film its title: it is narrated by the new suit Bob acquires as he gets ready for his wedding, and worse yet, the fine Italian suit (assembled in China from fabric made in India) has a rather clumsy pseudo-Italian accent. The suit-as-narrator is a distraction from the heart and soul of the film.

Still and all, it's a fun film, and worth seeing for a well-crafted transgender character. Recommended.

Keywords: Frameline35, LGBT Film, Transgender, Feature

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