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Southern Comfort (2001) A documentary about the travails of the transgendered risks sealing itself into a bubble of sad compassion, and when that film has won the Grand… 2001-02-21 Unrated PT90M Documentary Lola Cola Robert Eads Q-Ball Productions HBO Theatrical Documentary
Movie Review

Southern Comfort (2001)

MPAA Rating: Unrated

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EW's GRADE
A-

Details Limited Release: Feb 21, 2001; Rated: Unrated; Length: 90 Minutes; Genre: Documentary; With: Lola Cola and Robert Eads; Distributor: HBO Theatrical Documentary

A documentary about the travails of the transgendered risks sealing itself into a bubble of sad compassion, and when that film has won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, a viewer has every right to be wary: Too often, this award has been turned into a kind of Nobel PC Prize. But Kate Davis' lovely and moving Southern Comfort melts all wariness away. Set in the backwoods of Georgia, it offers a memorable portrait of Robert Eads, who was born a woman, got married and raised two sons, and then ''transitioned'' into the man we see: a sinewy, pipe-smoking cowboy with a wispy beard and the courtliest of Southern manners.

Robert's lover, the tall, demure Lola, is a transsexual herself, and the movie, for a while, indulges the delectable irony of this topsy-turvy gender union. Yet it goes deeper than that. Robert, a brave-new-world pioneer who is also a down-home traditionalist, has ovarian cancer, and as he confronts his mortality in a society where many physicians refuse to treat him, the film defuses all preconceptions about the ''issues'' of transsexual identity to arrive at a place of tremulous human power.

Originally posted Mar 16, 2001 Published in issue #587 Mar 16, 2001 Order article reprints