Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

08 December 2017

Two Lives

Anna Muylaert's film Mãe Só Há Uma (2016) was released in the U.S. (and is available on Netflix) as Don't Call Me Son. I only just watched it last month, so I'm finally writing about it.

The movie's pretty great. It's not as good as Muylaert's 2015 movie Que Horas Ela Volta? (The Second Mother), but, then, The Second Mother is a brilliant film with a superb central performance by Regina Casé, so it is hard to beat.

Don't Call Me Son is about motherhood in some ways, too, but this new film takes the opposite perspective. This is a movie about being a teenager, and it explores that topic with sensitivity and generosity.

The film's clever English title (which seems unrelated to the film's original Portuguese title) manages to articulate both the main character's experiments with gender performance and his difficulties with his parents.

Still, if you're looking for a film about trans issues or even gay issues, this film isn't really trying to do that. Instead, the main character's experiments with sexuality and gender performance work as a kind of backdrop or circumstance that coincides with the larger story of finding a home and taking care of others. I really liked this movie, and the more I think about it the more I like it.