Writer-director Luis De Filippis marks her feature directorial debut with a different kind of trans-led film, Something You Said Last Night.
The film marks the on-screen debut for Carmen Madonia. She worked with an acting coach for a year and a half heading into production. Her work paid off because you could never tell that this was her first feature role.
The mid-twentysomething Ren (Carmen Madonia) joins her family on vacation to a beach resort after being fired from her job. She’s an aspiring writer and it’s like everything starts to hit her at once. It does not help that her parents, Mona (Ramona Milano) and Guido (Joey Parro), can be overbearing. Ren does not tell her parents about losing her job and so she’s going to have to rely on them upon getting back unless something changes soon. Until then, Ren cannot help but feel like a burden to her family. You cannot blame her for wanting her independence. Who wouldn’t want that in their mid-20s?!? But as anyone knows, writing does not always lead to the best financial situation. You have to be in the right place at the right time!
The fact that Ren is a transgender woman is not something that she lets define her. It just happens to be who she is. This is the big difference between how a transgender filmmaker would approach the film and a cisgender filmmaker. It would be nice if more trans characters would get this sort of treatment on screen. Being trans should appear as normal on the screen, be it big screen or small. What makes this one so different is that Ren’s transness is never made a big deal. Her family accepts and loves her for who she is. It’s just there, much like the Nicole Maines-starring vampire film, Bit. They should never ever be a big deal. Like Jen Richards once said a few years ago, trans characters should not be a gimmick in a film or TV series.
By my account, there are at least three feature films that trans filmmakers are directing and playing during TIFF. Filippis, a TIFF veteran and shoots the feature on 35mm film, has been working on this film for a number of years and the end result a beautifully told story. I don’t know what the film’s commercial potential is at the moment but I’m glad that it is out there and playing in a major film festival.
Something You Said Last Night is a bold new addition to the canon of trans cinema.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Luis De Filippis
CAST: Carmen Madonia, Ramona Milano, Paige Evans, Joey Parro
Something You Said Last Night holds its world premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program. Grade: 3.5/5
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