Film: “Mutt” (Netflix)
For Fena (Lio Mehiel), the protagonist of Vuk Lungulov-Klotz’s “Mutt,” life in New York City is a bummer. A female-to-male trans who’s in the process of transitioning, Fena and their friends are dancing in a Bushwick club one night, when they bump into John (Cole Doman), Fena’s cis-gender ex-boyfriend. The meeting is awkward but what is clear is that both still have feelings for each other, a year after the breakup.
Fena has plenty more to worry about, we soon discover. Their estranged father (Alejandro Goic) is flying in from Chile the following evening, and trying to borrow a car to pick him up at Newark Airport becomes a major undertaking. Meanwhile, Fena’s 14-year-old half-sister Zoe (MiMi Ryder) shows up out of the blue, having run away from her pot-smoking abusive mother.
These events, which take place over a single 24-hour period, reveal the dark underside of New York City living. The mood is grim and the film is often painful to watch. However, it succeeds in drawing attention to the trauma that a trans faces: post-operation body shame, alienation from family and former lovers, and crude remarks from others who can’t wrap their heads around why “this” happened. “Do you think this was easy?” Fena asks. “Did you think I just woke up one day and thought, ‘gee what would it be like to be trans?’”
“Mutt” (Netflix) premiered at Sundance last January and Mehiel won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Acting. Later, the film had its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and won a Special Mention award. In its own quiet way, this is an amazing, revelatory film about a people who suffer for trying to be who they really are.
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