Transgender multi-talent Alexis Arquette opens up her world for all to see during a crucial time in her life – she’s decided that she has lived as a woman long enough and that she will take the necessary steps to actually becoming a woman, ultimately requiring gender reassignment surgery. Beginning in personal video diary fashion, Alexis lets us know of her decision and invites us along on her journey to becoming all woman. Part video diary and part traditional documentary, “She’s My Brother” is, at first, quite revealing as we follow her around town, allowing her to paint a picture of what life is kinda like for a transgendered person. We also follow her along on various counselling appointments with her prospective doctors, as well as sessions with a therapist where she reveals struggle within her actor family. For most of us accustomed to the boisterous performer, it’s interesting to see a more personal, revealing Alexis Arquette. Or so you think. Then things get strange.
About midway into the film there’s a segment where Alexis is upset sbout the camera’s ever presence and proclaims that whenever she is shot, she needs to be prepared for it. She needs to have it under her control. Okay, total queeny behavior – not only is that understandable, but it’s expected, too. Fine. But it makes you question the validity of what we’ve been previously watching. Is this all just a show? Then, later in the film, after receiving a document from her therapist claiming that she is indeed of sound mind as she goes into this gender reassingment process, a document she has been working towards for the entire film as she can’t go to a proper doctor for the procedure without it…she’s less than thrilled and begins clamming up in front of the camera. Time goes by without a word from Alexis until the filmmakers track her down and film her to her bristling reluctance. They secure a final interview with her and Alexis refuses to give up whether she had the operation done or not. Her attitude is basically that her privates are private and it’s nobody’s business what she does with them. End of movie.
So…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a documentary self-destruct like this one. They may as well have just had someone light the projector on fire. But it makes you wonder whether this started out as a real documentary where the subject got cold feet midway, or if this was just someone jumping up and down for attention. Either way, this film paints a supremely depressing picture. By the end of this road to self-realization, she seems more lost than ever. Her interaction with friends and family members is kept to a bare minimum, creating the feeling that she’s alienated herself from most everyone. And speaking of her family – not one single interview with any of the other Arquettes. The only time we ever really see or hear from them is in old home movie footage or archival media clips taken from various premieres. All in all, you feel that things aren’t all good in the land of Alexis Arquette and that brings me to my closing thought.
This movie should never have been made. It certainly didn’t have to be, what with the subject unable to completely open up and reveal herself. And if it really did play out that Alexis got cold feet about revealing such personal details – fine. Nothing wrong with that and I completely agree with her that what she does with her body should be a private thing. But then don’t release the movie, or at least put it aside for a while, give it some thought and maybe properly finish it at a later date. It didn’t necessarily need to end with her getting the operation and showing her new coochie to the world, but it sure as hell shouldn’t have ended with her basically telling the audience to f**k off and that all we’ve been watching is none of our beeswax. Bad form. Super bad form. Which is tragic because I think Alexis Arquette is fantastic, she’s my favorite of that entire family. If she’s got problems in her life that she’s uncomfortable discussing publicly, then I’d rather that remain none of my business, not be faced with this film that comes off as a half-assed cry for help. Everyone involved should have recognized how this movie turned out and swept it under the rug because it’s going to cause more damage than anything else.