Review: Prodigal Sons

Transcript after the jump
Last week I went to see the new documentary, Prodigal Sons, by Kimberly Reed.
All I had read was the IMDB description of the film. I had honestly expected that it would be primarily about Kimberly’s experiences as a trans woman. What I found was instead a complicated story about family, disability, mental illness, adoption and violence.
One of the things I liked best was that even though the narrator and director of the film is a trans woman, her gender identity was not the central theme. It was simply one theme among many. In some ways it was a relief to see that this piece of her life did not have to always be the central focus. That a film involving a trans person did not have to be a trans film, at least not exclusively.
What the film did deal with was extremely challenging. At the center was the relationship between Kimberly and her older brother Marc. Marc is the only adopted child of the family and his discovery of his birth family is a big piece of the film. Marc struggles with severe mental illness, some of which is connected to a car accident he experienced in his teens. Much of the film centers on Marc and the family’s struggles incorporating him in light of his illness and resultant violent outbursts.
The central themes are ones that many of us can relate to–the challenges of coming home once you’ve established a life and identity elsewhere, learning how to relate to our family members as adults, and often supporting them through difficult times.
If you’re interested in seeing the film, the website has a list of upcoming screenings.


Transcript: Music. Marc says “I had a horrible accident when I was young and had part of my brain removed.” More music. Newscaster says: “Imagine finding out after 38 years that your family tree is recognizable to almost every classic movie fan.” More music.

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One Comment

  1. tulin
    Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m so pleased to this film reviewed on feministing. I saw it this weekend as well, and am so happy this type of film is getting distribution (I saw it in San Diego).
    I really can’t think of the last movie I saw that featured a trans woman or trans man as a character, other than as a punchline. So refreshing to see this portrayal of one person’s multi-faceted life, and all of the struggles and triumphs within it.
    I also enjoyed how it brought up the issue of families, and just how goddamn hard it is to be one sometimes. I feel like a lot of times we are pressured to have perfect relationships/connections with our parents and our siblings; but often times, they aren’t what either person wants, needs, or hopes for.
    Anyway, thanks for highlighting this movie, Miriam. I would encourage everyone to check it out if you get the chance.

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