I was absolutely blown away by the trailer for Gaby Dellal’s new family drama about a teenager (Elle Fanning) who seeks signatures from both parents allowing her to begin the process of sex reassignment surgery. My only concern going in was how the currently trending topic of anything trans would be dealt with. Would it be sensationalized or exploitation? Would it struggle so hard to stay PC that it wouldn’t say anything at all? Would Dellal take advantage of all the press surrounding the subject matter to produce shameless and obvious Oscar bait?
All my fears were laid to rest almost immediately. Dellal introduced the film saying that About Ray was not a story about someone who was transgender. It’s a story about family. This turned out to be absolutely true. The three leads (including Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon as Fanning’s mother and grandmother) don’t play one-dimensional symbols of courage. These characters- as well as their house- look completely lived-in. Having to adjust to thinking of their (grand)daughter as a (grand)son is only a small part of the story of this family’s bond and conflicts. Fanning, Sarandon, and Watts are more than up for the challenge. They even look like a family.
About Ray is complex and always entertaining (eliciting laughs from Sunday morning’s audience in almost every scene) and never preachy. See it.
Note: when we saw this movie at TIFF, it was called About Ray. Now that it’s finally hitting theatres May 5, it has been renamed ‘Three Generations.’