Gender Confusion Abounds in Sexual-Identity Comedy
As Zerophilia opens, we find Luke (Taylor Handley), a teen insecure about his masculinity, losing his virginity to a middle-aged British woman who invites him for a roll in the hay in the back of her RV parked on a campground on the edge of the forest. The deflowering proves to be more than a little unsettling for the sexually-inexperienced college student, because the encounter is the first indication that he suffers from a rare genetic condition.
That mythological malady, Zerophilia, causes a carrier to change gender whenever he or she makes love. And with Luke just heading off to college with raging hormones, the prospect of turning into a woman after seducing the girl of his dreams is the last thing he needs. But that’s precisely the predicament he finds himself in when he woos Michelle (Rebecca Mozo), a cute coed who triggers his seemingly irreversible transformation into a female.
This novel point of departure provides the screen fodder for Zerophilia, a surprising compelling sitcom, given the silly-sounding premise. Blessed with an endlessly-elliptical script layered with lots of surprises, the movie succeeds due to the efforts of a talented cast which seriously sells the idea that what we’re dealing with is an uncommon, but medically-diagnosed condition. Freaked out by the loss of chest hair and his simultaneous sprouting of breasts, Luke eventually has to adopt a feminine persona, Luca (played by Marieh Delfino), while trying to figure out what the heck is happening to him. Luke/Luca is lost, not knowing whether he/she’s straight, bi, gay or some other undetermined preference? Help arrives in the person of Dr. Sydney Catchadourian (Gina Bellman), a sex therapist who has treated several
The Doctor encourages Luke/Luca to consummate with Michelle and thereby turn himself totally into a woman, because if he mates again, he can switch right back to a man. But what Luke wasn’t banking on was the possibility that as Luca, he might suddenly find himself more attracted to Michelle’s brother,
Max (Kyle Schmid), than to his new girlfriend. As one can easily imagine, this development complicates matters significantly, as does the discovery of others suffering from the same affliction.
Written and directed by Martin Curland, Zerophilia is as ingenious and as expertly-executed a feature film debut as you could ever hope to find among the artsy, micro-budget offerings. For this sexual identity adventure even delivers a tender message that in this transgendered age of sex change on demand, “You can’t figure out who you are, until you accept who you might be.”
Excellent (4 stars)