31 March 2020
Set against grey skies and unwelcoming waves of the Uruguayan coast, XXY is an intersex teenager’s coming-of-age story on the cusp of an important decision. Armed with a sly grin and piercing sky-blue eyes, Inés Efron’s Alex appears to have finally accepted her situation, but is still unsure which direction to take.
Her parents’ diverging opinions do not help matters, while her father is more than accepting of her making her own decision, her mother would like to keep the status quo they have adopted. When she invites an old friend, her plastic-surgeon husband, and their quiet teenage son (Martin Piyoransky as Alvaro) to their remote Uruguayan coastal home, things turn for the worse.
Shot and edited in such a way that not a moment feels wasted, this is a heartbreaking and an eye-opening film in many respects. Inés Efron, who was born intersex in real life, brings an air of authenticity that otherwise would have felt maudlin.
It’s not all perfect, though. The parents are mostly silent and with the exception of Ricard Darín’s father, underused to be nothing more than stage furniture.
Both Efron and Piyoranski are incredible in their respective roles and the film truly zings when they are on screen. This was Lucía Puenzo’s debut film as a director (her other titles include The German Doctor) and it’s as accomplished a debut as you can expect.