Out Of Time **
Starring: Frankie Friend, Kerry Williams, Jamie Cousins, Bernadette Foley, Marcus Collins
Director: Leon Lopez
When Danny (Cousins) is released from prison in Liverpool, he returns to his doting wife (Williams) and ten year-old son Connor (Friend), hoping that nothing has changed. But it has. A lot. Forbidden from fighting at his boxing gym, he brings his son to train with him, only to be frustrated that Connor doesn’t like this harsh machismo environment whatsoever. In fact, Connor is hiding a secret; he was born into the wrong gender. Though he has grown up with a wholly supportive mother, the return of a father who holds such opposing views is a massive shock to the system.
Films Tomboy and Ma Vie En Rose have covered similar territory in the past, finding success in their treatment of the issue of childhood gender through subtlety and restraint. If there’s one thing Out Of Time isn’t, it’s restrained. With a heavy-handed script, every argument is a slanging match and issue after issue is piled upon the family, especially as grandma (Foley) arrives, dying of terminal cancer. A late scene at a roof-top window is the cherry on top, in which the stakes are raised from naught to a hundred in seconds flat, but with the scenario itself not warranting its shrill melodrama, feeling more like soap opera than a developed movie.
The acting from its leads is competent, but not so much from its supporting cast, especially from the school bully whose unprompted and blankly silent tumble from a garden wall is more comedic than being the perilous accident that the narrative is trying to infer. Music is over-used, exaggerating the emotion of a scene instead of supporting it. And the plot itself sees characters hurling abuse at each other one minute and then forgiving everything the next. There’s no nuance here, with characters just vessels for conflict and not much more.
Director Leon Lopez has produced some brilliant short Queer Cinema in the past, with Almost Saw The Sunshine a particular highlight, but his previous feature, Soft Lad (2015) struggled with finding the balance between character and plot. And the same critique applies here.
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