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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Family in Transition documentary review: weathering change at home (#DOCNYC2018)

Family in Transition green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Frank and bittersweet, this is a quietly remarkable portrait of one father and husband’s gender transition, and how the family coped — and didn’t — with dramatic upheaval in the most intimate of settings: home.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for movies about women
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, female protagonist
(learn more about this)

In a small conservative Israeli town, Amit Tsuk, a happily married husband and father of four children, announces that he is transgender, and begins to live as a woman. This has already happened by the time documentary filmmaker Ofir Trainin introduces us to Amit and now-her wife, Galit, and their children, and the family is a warm, comfortable nest: the kids seem delighted to have two moms, and Galit is determined that her romance with Amit will survive. But as Trainin’s intimate, fly-on-the-wall witnessing of the following months will show with frank bittersweetness, not even strong, devoted love will be enough to get everyone through this difficult transition unscathed.

As family events — such as one daughter’s bat mitzvah — arise, we see the cracks in the extended family: some of their relatives simply will not attend, unhappy with the disruption Amit has wrought. Galit’s tireless physical and emotional support through Amit’s hormone treatment and then surgery takes a heavy toll on Galit. As quietly remarkable a portrait of gender transition that Family in Transition is, one full of generous humanity and enormous compassion, it’s more about how any relationship can suffer when partners grow and change, in any way, at different speeds or in different directions, and the points beyond which accommodation may be impossible. And what happens when home, which is meant to be a haven from the troubles of the outside world, is going through dramatic upheaval, no matter how welcome and wanted it is.

The sympathetic affirmation here of Amit — who now goes by Imit — extends far beyond the mere acceptance of her transitioning and into a place that simply treats her as whole, complex person not defined by her gender. This is a study of change, and how one woman coped with it in herself and in others, too: not always well or easily.

viewed as part of DOC NYC 2018

Click here for my ranking of this and 2018’s other releases.

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green light 3.5 stars

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Family in Transition (2018) | directed by Ofir Trainin
US/Can release: Nov 16 2018

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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