I just finished watching a screener of this film and I was literally blown away. Here is an intimate as well as heartwarming and touching tale of how family ties last above all else. The documentary follows a family where under most circumstances relationships would be strained to the breaking point. The movie chronicles the close and sometimes distant relationship between identical twins Mark and Alex as Alex is transformed into a woman named Clair. Directed by Brooke Sebold, Benita Sills and Todd Sills, the film is a testament to the value of family in the modern world and does so beautifully.
In 1983, Mark and Alexander Farley were born twins just moments apart in Missoula, Montana. They grew up as all-American kids in an all-American family. They twins had everything—holidays together were joyous, a second home on the lake, parents who loved them and supported them. But by the time they were 14, things changed drastically. Their parents divorced and the twins came out as gay and were partners in a joint suicide attempt. This forced a separation between them for the next two and a half years.
These troubled times are documented through candid and extensive interviews with the twins and their friends and family. The past they shared obviously influenced their efforts to find themselves in the present.
The film then follows Alex who has become Clair and we witness her transition through electrolysis and her ultimate decision to have the full surgery in order to become a woman.
Here is a moving tribute to two kids looking for acceptance and love and each other. Impressively told with a lot of sincerity, this is an extremely moving venture in filmmaking. At several instances in the film, I found myself tearing up as the story unfolded. The title “Red Without Blue” refers to the colors worn by the twins so as to be able to distinguish between the two. The film also beautifully provides an optimistic but heartbreaking look at what one must face as he grows up not only gay in rural Montana but transgender as well. Montana is a place where adversity against gays is not unknown and had it not been for the strength of the family the two would never have survived.
The movie presents interviews alongside of beautiful scenes from the twins’ life. Mark was a fine arts student and was familiar with the creation of things of beauty and the directors say that had the intention of making “the film Mark would have made for himself had he been a filmmaker”. Interviews are spliced with home movies, family photographs as well as with experimental sequences that both reflect and capture the emotional state of the twins.
As I write this, I am still somewhat reeling from the effect the movie had on me. What a beautiful way to look at the lives of two youth who have survived a great deal of hardship to get to be who they are. Five stars are not quite enough for this movie. It is a true gem.