The premise of Red Without Blue pretty much sells itself: The documentary follows two identical male twins as one of them undergoes gender reassignment surgery to become a female. I attended the local premiere of this movie last year, but since it was made by three first-time filmmakers from SF, I didn't expect to be blown away. Boy, was I wrong: Since then, it has become the little documentary I cannot stop recommending to people.
That's because Red Without Blue, which came out on DVD last week, goes so much deeper than its already fascinating premise. The film explores everything from the cosmic connections between twins to the blurry definitions of homosexuality in small-town America to how hormone therapy is like constant PMS. The film chronicles three years in the lives of Mark and Alex (now Clair) Farley, who grew up in a seemingly picture-perfect family in Montana. But by their teenage years, the twins had attempted mutual suicide, and their now-divorced parents had become unaccepting of their sons' sexual orientation.
When the movie opens, the situation is downright bleak. What's fascinating is how Alex's decision to have the surgery brings the family back together. The father, at first, finds it odd that he suddenly has a daughter, until he realizes that it's someone he already knows and loves. And watching Mark and Clair's mother get excited about having a girl to buy jewelry for is utterly heartwarming. Check out the trailer online, or just trust me and put it in your Netflix queue.