Bristol Fashion: Review

Bristol Fashion: Review

Bristol Fashion: Review. By Joe Muldoon.

Christina (Lea Nayeli, who also co-wrote the film) is a young transgender woman who has left her troubled home behind, opting instead to stay in a dilapidated boatyard. After paying for a small broken-down boat, she intends to gradually fix it up and to set sail down the river, well away from New York. Throughout the renovation process, Christina becomes friends with Esteban (Raul A. Perez), the worker who sold her the boat, and Esteban begins to develop unreciprocated feelings towards his new friend.

As time goes by, the everyday struggles of trans people are highlighted, many of which would otherwise be overlooked. When applying for a job at the local grocery store, the hiring manager shows his confusion towards Christina’s ID card, which is from her pre-transition years.

Having been co-written by its leading star, it seems sadly likely that Christina’s struggles are partially drawn from her own life. Dotted around the story are silent flashback sequences of her crying in the shower of her family home, struggling with the rejection she faces.

Despite grappling with some important issues faced by transgender people, the film falls short of properly developing them. Christina’s references to it are vague, but we can see that the transphobia and rejection by her family has badly affected her, especially through her avoidance of the topic. However, when transphobic insults are hurled towards her by local bigots, they hardly appear to register, upsetting Esteban more than anybody else. In parts, the dialogue does not flow particularly well, and the acting is sometimes stiff, making some of the conversations feel somewhat unnatural.

Bristol Fashion works best when it focuses on the annoyances of Christina’s life, particularly those stemming from a lack of understanding or empathy towards her circumstances, but the hesitance to show the effects of transphobia – beyond random cuts to her crying in the shower – prevents the film from being as effective as it otherwise could have been.

Clearly being a deeply personal film for both Lea Nayeli and director Pierre Guillet, their ideas would likely have been more suited to a short film. That said, it deserves merit for increasing visibility towards topics mostly ignored by film over the years. Christina’s life will likely resonate with some of its audience, and will hopefully provide a glimmer of hope for the future.

By Joe Muldoon

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