From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Oct 30 08:36:34 2016
IN THE TURN (2014)
A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth
**1/2 (out of ****)
Is the impassioned documentary "In the Turn," as its synopsis would have us believe, about "the journey of a 10-year-old transgender girl (Crystal) as
she navigates the difficult and complicated world that surrounds her"?
Or is it about the Vagine Regime, an international sisterhood of queer roller derby combatants who welcome the outcast and the ostracized into
their fold--lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender--providing a sanctuary
where individuals can simply be themselves... while out-muscling usurpers at breakneck speed on an indoor circular track?
Or is it about the transgender lifestyle in general, told through a colorful patchwork of outspoken yet vulnerable personalities who have struggled, in one way or another, with who they are--and emerged victorious?
20:60:20 is probably a fair ratio of the percentages allocated the respective themes and it's encouraging to see these three
separate-but-related narratives receiving their cinematic due in some shape
or form. But "In the Turn" would have been more coherent an experience had filmmaker Erica Tremblay simply picked one subject and stuck with it.
There's enough material here to warrant multiple treatments.
Statistically speaking, hawking the Vagine Regime is clearly
Tremblay's prime motivation here. Crystal's struggling single mom (who
could be played by Patricia Arquette in the dramatized version) discovers
the group on Facebook and writes them a heartfelt note. Bullying,
including being thrown into a dumpster after school, and an inability to participate in sports because she doesn't "fit" on either a boy's or a
girl's team, had caused her daughter to have suicidal thoughts as early as
age five. So moved is the VR's governing body by Crystal's story of non-acceptance that the collective organizes a fundraiser to fly the
pre-teen from Canada to California to attend a junior roller derby camp.
While Crystal's story is unfolding, we are witness to multiple brave
and candid exposes, mostly of VR members but not exclusively so, with a lot
of happy endings--love, marriage, lifelong commitments, but above all else
a sense of belonging. Even Crystal, whose induction into the world of
junior roller derby is a shaky one, admits that the opportunity afforded
her by the 'Regime was the best day of her life.