Saturday, June 13, 2020

A trans tale like few others -- Jeanie Finlay's SEAHORSE: THE DAD WHO GAVE BIRTH

Since the movie under review here is a documentary, rather than science fiction, readers can pretty quickly figure out that SEAHORSE: THE DAD WHO GAVE BIRTH must indeed involve a woman who transgenders to a man and then, even so, gives birth to a baby. Although the film most reminded me of a 1968 play by Colin Spencer, Spitting Image, that my ex-wife and I saw in New York City back in 1969, it is indeed a piece of non-fiction that tracks the decision by this then-30-year-old male named Freddy McConnell, to first be inseminated via the sperm of an unknown donor and then carry to term and give birth to her/his own child.

As produced, directed and with some footage shot by Jeanie Finlay (shown at left), the documentary moves pleasantly along, skirting much depth or profundity, and even seeming to prefer not to get close to anything dark or negative.

Although we get some of Freddy's family history, and meet his mom and step-dad ("Mom's an extrovert who's got this family of introverts," he tells us with a smile), it would appear, from what we see and learn here, that McConnell has so far had a pretty easy time of transgendering.

He does want to keep news of his pregnancy from leaking out to the town in which he and his family live. Oh, yes: And the young man -- one C J -- with whom Freddy was to share and raise this child suddenly backs out of the arrangement for reasons we never learn. Other than all that, though, things are going swimmingly.

It takes about half the film before Freddy finally gets pregnant. From that point, he is besieged by morning (or, as he calls it, "all-day") sickness, the usual bizarre hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, a little self-doubt countered by his mom's encouragement (that's she, below, right), and finally the reappearance of C J, whom now, we are told, is going to be the new family's faithful friend.

It's not that we necessarily want to learn more negatives here. God knows, most trans folk have enough of those in their lives already. But the nagging question, "Who are these people?" crops up often enough in this relatively short movie that its insistence on bouncing along the surface becomes more and more annoying. Post his child's birth (in water), all seems well once again for Freddy, his new family and his old.

All has not gone quite as Mr. McConnell migh have wished, however. The movie does not go into any of this, but if you would like to learn more, you can click here and peruse an article from Britain's newspaper, The Guardian, at which Mr. McConnell worked as a journalist.

Visually speaking, Ms Finlay gives us a nice look at a duck gathering material for a nest plus a few too many shots of birds flying (freedom, you know) and that titular seahorse, the species in which it is the male who does the birthing.

From 1091 and running just 86 minutes, Seashore: The Dad Who Gave Birth will be available -- to rent or buy -- via digital or VOD this coming Tuesday, June 16.

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