Written and directed by Em Weinstein, In France Michelle is a Man’s Name (2020) is a short film showing as part of the Narrative Shorts lineup at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival. The short offers a teaching moment in the lives of trans persons, displaying an attempt of a father trying to reconnect with his trans son.
In France Michelle is a Man’s Name follows Michelle “Mike” (Ari Damasco) a 27-year-old transgender man who lives with his very different parents. After a family dinner, his father (played by Jerry Carlton) asks him to ride with him, and the two find themselves at a local strip club. Though his father is by his side during this right of passage, the uncomfortable experience reveals his true nature.
If you like silly movie-things like when a character says the title of the film within the film, or when there are impromptu song breaks out of nowhere, then this is an interesting one. Mostly quiet sound-wise but not afraid to tell a story through bold visuals, IFMIAMN deals with difficult family moments and the passing down of toxic masculinity.
The tone of the movie is at first rather calm, but the movie takes on an increasingly darker and more sinister tone as the character is pushed into an increasingly uncomfortable and horrifying situation. IFMIAMN shows the complexity of familial relations and how parents react differently to the identity of their children.
IFMIAMN is unexpected at every turn, it is not thrilling, but there is a heavy amount of tension with its slow and gradual pace, and the characters themselves surprise, and by the film’s end, no one was who I thought their character was going to be.
In France Michelle is a Man’s Name played at Slamdance 2021.
7.5 out of 10