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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Lingua Franca - Movie Review


The Movie: Lingua Franca

The Director: Isabel Sandoval

The Cast: Eamon Farren, Lev Gorn, P.J. Boudousqué, Lynn Cohen, Isabel Sandoval, Ivory Aquino, Andrea Leigh, Leif Steinert, Roman Blat, Jake Soister

The Story: Olivia, an undocumented Filipino trans woman, works as a caregiver in Brooklyn. When she runs out of options to attain legal status in the US, she becomes romantically involved with her employer's grandson in the pursuit of a marriage-based green card.


The Review:
Okay so this movie has all the emotions. It's such a heartfelt tale of hope and love and possibility yet it is also tragic, and sad, and leaves you with so many questions. Questions about who we are, why we are here, what does it mean to be a person when it comes to societal definitions. I love that Isabella Sandoval wrote the movie, produced it, directed it, and then also chose to star in it, I'm assuming because it's such a deeply personal story as she is a trans woman herself.

One of things I love most about this movie is how real it feels and every character is like someone you know whether a family member, a coworker, or a friend, it's easy to identify with the characters or even to see yourself in them. Also, it's so important to see Olivia as a person with dreams and desires and routines and problems and everything else that comes along with existing as a human being. Then there is also the fear and anxiety that can come with being a minority and then being an immigrant and then being an undocumented citizen and then being a trans woman and then being all of that in a place that tends to reject each and all of those things.

That's where the real tragedy of Olivia's existence comes in to play. On one hand she is a vibrant woman who has the world in front of her and yet every step she takes is either a dead end, a step back, or something much worse. Now, I don't want to make it seem like this movie is a total downer, there's so much more to it than that. It is definitely a slice of life type movie, it's just not one that you've probably witnessed or experienced before. Ms Sandoval tells so much story in a relatively short amount of time with a host of rich characters to get to know.

Speaking of the characters, I really enjoyed the supporting cast whose characters surround Olivia's day to day life. First and foremost I have to give a special mention to the eternally amazing Lynn Cohen who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. She plays her part brilliantly and is sort of the world that the other characters revolve around. The care she needs as an aging woman is yet another interesting story that Sandoval touches on with great respect and with great reverence and Ms Cohen pretty much nails every moment of it.

The love story that plays out between Olivia and Alex, played by Eamon Farren is so beautiful and so painful and so exactly like what falling in and out of love is really like. Wanting love and wanting to give love are the most basic things we have as human beings and the level of intimacy and sensuality and authenticity I saw in the performances is something you rarely see in movies. Humanity is really what's at the core of the story telling within this movie and I feel like Isabel Sandoval is the type of filmmaker that has a million things to say and I hope she gets to say all of it in her movies.


The Verdict:
Lingua Franca is the type of story telling we need right now. Real stories filled with heart that show us where there is opportunity for humanity to improve. Olivia's story as a trans woman is playing out in some form or fashion every day around the world and it's time these voices are heard. Go watch this movie.


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