Ray’s Reviews – Lawrence Anyways

As part of our Screen Queens initiative (all about feminist + queer film discussion) we put on regular movie nights and run a great podcast. Recently we received some funding from Brisbane Pride Festival’s Kal Collins Memorial Fund which has allowed us to program 3 special films to play on Friday nights at Metro Arts for the rest of 2017, and to pay our new reviewer, Ray, to write about the films for us.

Below is Ray’s review of the second of these three films – Lawrence Anyways – thanks, Ray!

Lawrence Anyways is a movie about a 30 year old trans woman transitioning from living her life as a man. Lawrence experiences a lot of hardships, sadly all-too-true for a lot of trans people. Set in the late 80s and early 90s, I love the way this film captures the aesthetics and fashion of the period.The movie follows Lawrence and her partner Fred’s on-and-off relationship.

One particularly memorable scene in the film shows Lawrence and Fred trying to have a coffee at a cafe, but the waitress keeps harassing them, saying the staff are curious about Lawrence’s gender expression. Fred stands up, smashes a cup, and explains (loudly and angrily) that the waiter isn’t entitled to peer into their private life. Passive transphobia—like what the waitress displayed—isn’t often represented or spoken about, so it was good to see.

I really enjoyed the truthful and relatable way the depression Fred falls into over Lawrence’s change is affecting their lives is depicted. Fred sitting naked on the floor of the bathroom, staring at the wall, felt very real. The film doesnt shy away from the negative side of Lawrence and Fred’s relationship. They are both two regular poeple who are capable of good and bad actions just like any other person. This makes the story more believable.

Lawrence Anyways is a relatable movie to me because I also came out to my long-term partner during our relationship that I wanted to be identified differently than what I was assigned at birth. Thankfully he responded in a very positive way so I did not need to write a coded novel.

My favourite scene in the movie is when Lawrence decided to go to work as her newly presented self wearing makeup, heels, and a green skirt suit. Her students are all chatting amongst themselves, waiting for the teacher, and as Lawrence finally arrives and slowly walks to her desk, the room goes dead quiet. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how the class would react and after an agonising pause a student put up their hand and asked a question about assessment, and the lesson went on as usual. This is my favourite scene because although the students are a little shocked with the change, they don’t drown Lawrence in questions. They treat her the same and go about the lesson as normal.

Another important part of the movie is that Lawrence at one point gets terribly beaten up in a bar and is then stranded asking strangers for money to make a payphone call. Lawrence is taken in by Baby Rose, another trans women who cleans her wounds and invites her to meet the rest of her like-minded family. Lawrence meets the diverse group and fits right in.

For all of its flaws, Lawrence Anyways is one of the most believable films about one trans persons experience. Although it may not be the most enjoyable film to watch, moment to moment, I know it will stay with me for a long time.

– Ray


Our final movie night of the year will be Spirited Away on Friday November 3 – get your ticket here!

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