This is the powerfully moving story of Alex, played by Ines Efron, a teen looking for acceptance and belonging in an often cruel and unjust world. XXY is chromosome combination for a person having been born with both male and female reproductive organs. Previously know as hermaphrodites, but now use the more P.C. term intersexed. Any time a movie goes into this territory it has a chance of become exploitive and unrealistic. Director Lucia Puenzo’s is conscious of this and really hits home on many universal themes such as identity, parental love and belonging.
Alex is fifteen years old and has been living as a girl all of her life. She takes hormones and supplements to keep developing this way. Her parents are obviously very protective of her secret and have had to move around a lot to avoid the unrelentingly curious public. After yet another move to a small coastal town in Uruguay, Alex seems to have had enough and stops taking her meds. A more aggressive Alex starts to emerge and after a fight with her best friend (Vando, a boy) she falls into an abyss of sexual confusion and loss of identity.
Alex’s parents could have elected have a surgery at her birth to “correct” the situation, but her father Kraken refused, simply calling her “perfect”. Kraken is marine biologist by trade and a model of pure love and tolerance for Alex. Alex’s mother is hurt and disappointed that she has decided to stop trying to become a woman and fears what might become of her. They invite a surgeon and his family to their home for a few days to get a sort of second opinion. They have a teen son named Alvaro who is also trying to find his own way.
Alex asks Alvaro point blank if he will have sex with her, but he declines as he is dealing with some issues of his own. He suspects she is different but not to what extent. When Alex forces the issue and they finally get together, Alvaro is in for quite a surprise. Kraken accidentally witnesses part of this and his deepest fears start to surface. The fallout from this event is emotionally painful and embarrassing for all of them. When a group of teen boys hear a rumor about Alex and decide to find out for themselves we get one of the more heartbreaking scenes in the film. They hunt her down on the beach and hold her down while one of the boys pulls down her shorts. She is eventually saved by Vando and taken back home. Kraken is conflicted as to weather or not to got to the police as it could bring even more unwanted attention, so he leaves it up to Alex.
Alex and Alvaro’s relationship allows them to use each other in order to find out who they really are. Alvaro confirms that fact that he is gay and must deal with his intolerant father, which is another gut-wrenching scene. As Alvaro and his family get ready to leave, he confronts Alex about his feeling for whoever she decides to become. Alex is skeptical about his motives and asks if he wants “to see” and he leaves it up to her. She shows him and the film thankfully holds back the urge to give the audience a sort of genital money shot and leaves it to our imaginations. This film is beautiful, tragic, hopeful and so many other things. It is a must see and is available through Netflix Watch Instantly