RED WITHOUT BLUE (Benita Sills, Todd Sills, Brooke Sebold, U.S.). 74 minutes. May 26, 5 pm, Isabel Bader. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Winner of the Audience Award for best documentary feature at this year's Slamdance fest, Red Without Blue is a jarringly beautiful broken-mirror reflection of the fraught relationship between Mark and Alex/Clair Farley. Born identical twin brothers in Montana, the troubled 20-somethings are finding themselves on opposite coasts - Mark an out San Fran art student; Alex, now Clair, a transgendered woman at Sarah Lawrence College.
Uncomfortably intimate at times, the documentary uses a fragmentary narrative to piece together the Farleys' murky history, from their idyllic childhood as the cherubic pride of their doting Christian Scientist family through their parents' divorce, the trauma of coming out in a small Midwestern town and the abuse (sexual and drug) that led to their suicide pact and eventual meltdown.
Though the stylized, arty structure is initially disorienting, the filmmakers' skill and their subjects' candour result in a gorgeous biographical portrait that has an otherworldly emotional wallop reminiscent of Tarnation.