Southern Comfort (2001)

"Very Good"

Southern Comfort (2001) Review


Robert's a man, Lola's a woman. They're a cute, southern couple.

Only Robert was born a woman, Lola a man. Robert's dying. Of cervical cancer. And nothing else is as it scenes.

This video documentary of Robert's last year of life is about as strange as they come, a mindbending (and genderbending) look at a subset of the population you probably didn't know existed. Transsexuals living in the good-ol'-boy Deep South? It's true, and it's one of the more compelling documentaries in recent years.

Director Kate Davis lets the subjects speak for themselves, never interjecting her opinions or even really asking questions. It's a heartbreaking story of botched operations, ostracism, and financial ruin -- and ultimately, it's also a story about human mortality. Davis treats the subject matter with considerable delicacy, never creating the circus-like environment she easily could have fallen into.

The only real faults with Southern Comfort are the use of low-grade video, though it's an obvious budget constraint, and some questionable editing. A few speeches run long and cover some repetitive ground. Deleted scenes on the DVD are also somewhat repetitious.

Still, short of Crumb, this is one of the most compelling and loving documentaries about a part of society that otherwise slips between the cracks.



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