Main image
1st December
2017
written by Mad Cow

Not Rated by MMPA

Mad Cow’s Rating:

I couldn’t be more pleased to be reviewing a movie by my friend, the brilliant Christine Howey. This film started out as a play (at first a very short one) that, as they say, “took off” in the Cleveland theater scene. I saw it at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square and loved it. Later it showed at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival. Alerting my New York friends to the play, this is what I said at the time:

“I liked the fact that it was fast and often very funny, earnest but not tedious, deep but not lugubrious. It’s Christine’s story of changing from being a man to becoming a woman, really her life story starting from when she was born. She made the transition at least 20 years ago after a living many years in some pain. It’s a one-woman, one-act play. The transitions, lighting etc. (and picture illustrations of her as a man and then a woman) are great.”

      Christine as a boy

Now that I have attended the world premiere of the movie, my thoughts are similar. Of course Director Scott Plate was able to do more with a film. Chris, the Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights, is an actor, director, theater critic, and performance poet. She wrote the screenplay from her poetry and not only plays herself but several other characters, including her mother, who are enhanced via costume and larger roles. We also get to move through various settings and meet new characters. Luckily, though, Chris never abandons her own character, authentic and strong.

Director Scott Plate, experienced in theater, makes his film-debut with this picture and he makes the change deftly. He avoids making the movie seem like a videotaped play, using close-ups and angles and different settings to enhance the narrative. Likewise award-winning cinematographer Steven Hacker doesn’t disappoint. Producers Hacker, Andrew Gorell, and Jeffrey Grover, along with music director Marge Adler (who composed, arranged and played the music) make up the team that offered the audience a moving, informative, and remarkable experience.

In the film version several of the downs of the play seem to be more intense. I had “forgotten” the tormentors of Chris’s mind, suggesting vehemently that she off herself, that it would be easy, that she isn’t worthy of living. The humor on the other hand seems less pronounced. I found the scene in which her mother weighs the “pros” and “cons” of transition less funny this time around. “On the one hand you’d be happier, but on the other [very long list, with some funny items]…” The kicker is her mother wondering if, when coming upon friends of hers, her mother might introduce Chris as her niece. It’s a punch in the gut kind of moment.

Without this piece Christine’s artistic talents would be a gift to the world. We are fortunate that she used her gifts to construct her story. It’s an important one that I hope will be seen widely for the inspiration of all transgender persons and the education of everyone else.

 

                   Christine Howey

This film should be made available widely but funds for distribution are needed. If you are interested, go to  http://exactchangethefilm.com and then click the link for contributions. All contributions, small and large, are greatly appreciated. It’s quite possible that the conveyance of art is the only way that truth will prevail in today’s world.

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