Femme: Review. Fear-Based Violence. By Joseph Ha.
Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s queer short film “Femme” begins with a tearful childhood memory. Our protagonist, a gay black man named Jordan, is crying his father about some implied homophobic abuse. His father, though supportive and comforting, reminds him that “There’s always gonna be boys who wanna hurt ya.” The next scene flashforwards to adult Jordan going to a gay nightclub with some friends.
The night eventually crumbles due to the appearance of his ex but the arrival of a drug dealer gives the night another turn. The dealer has to return home to retrieve his dope but tonight is no ordinary pickup. Intrigued with some hints of attraction, the dealer invites Jordan back to his flat to receive the drugs, to which Jordan accepts. The ensuing events at the dealer’s house overflow with piercing fear, aggressive homophobia, and both predictable and unexpected violence.
Summarizing “Femme” comes with many difficulties. Every setting before the dealer’s flat and their scenes paints Jordan as a naive, foolish man trying to erase a heartbreak. And his recklessness becomes retroactively eyerolling when he later encounters unsurprising homophobic beatings from the dealer and his friends. However, the ensuing events reveal interesting reflections on violence.
“Femme” shows how no matter if one is a victim or a perpetuator, violence is something anyone is capable of. Although homophobic violence is obviously the monster in “Femme,” Freeman and Ping slowly uncover fear as a catalyst for an equally terrifying violence from Jordan.
The homophobic violence Jordan experiences is by no means light, yet it is forumulaic and the film restrains it before it can go to extreme lengths. Jordan, on the other hand, has unexpected reactions. While he fortunately finds opportunities to escape the homophobes, his actions after finding an exit go beyond mere self-defense. Specific details of this violence will ruin one’s cinematic experience of “Femme” but unpacking its viciousness is not unreasonable.
The homophobes’ violence obviously come from toxic masculinity and aggression and, in read life, can lead up to horrible actions, such as a hate crime murder. However, fear pushed Jordan and completely transformed him. He never wanted to inflict pain on people but when ““There’s always gonna be boys who wanna hurt” him, a terrifying desperation to avoid hurt arises. This fear is perhapsthe true terror of homophobia for “Femme.” Homophobia may harm victims but its scars can push victims to be just as violent as pertuators.
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