CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Paul Rudd Makes a Difference as ‘Our Idiot Brother’
CHICAGO – Advertised deceptively as a comedy, the new film “My Idiot Brother” has a Zen-like quality that is surprising, and oddly captivating, but cannot sustain itself and eventually runs out of steam. Paul Rudd plays the brother to three errant sisters, portrayed by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer.
This is more of a slice-of-life than a laugh out loud comedy, but the elements of the absurd post-millennial life of the characters does contribute to knowing chuckles and reflections about the truth that families often hide. In that sense the film attempts redemption, but the story shifts to provide a happy ending that leaves the characters wanting for more, including the Idiot Brother.
Ned (Rudd) practices organic agriculture and happily plies his trade at a local East Coast farmer’s market. He is a kind, trusting presence in all the lives he touches, even selling pot to a police officer because the cop tells Ned he’s had a bad week. After being arrested and serving his time in prison, Ned finds out he has been kicked off the farm by his former girlfriend Janet (Kathryn Hahn) and is now separated from his beloved dog named Willie Nelson.
Forced to go back to his family for help, he infiltrates the lives of his three sisters, Miranda (Elizabeth Banks), Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) and Liz (Emily Mortmer). Liz is married to Dylan (Steve Coogan), a documentary maker, and they provide a bed and income for him, even as he complicates their lives. His encounters with the other siblings also creates some revealing truths, for Ned believes that the world is better off trustworthy, though reality can often demonstrate otherwise.
Photo credit: Nicole Rivelli for The Weinstein Company