Olaf de Fleur’s The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela is as fabulous, scraggly, tough-minded, star-eyed and conflicted as the queen it documents. In the Philippines, de Fleur was transfixed by the days and nights of Cebu City’s transgendered male community—so much so that he wanted to make a film about one “lady boy” in particular, Raquela Rios. Not wanting to produce a conventional documentary or a standard narrative feature, the “stranded but undeterred” filmmaker opted for a “visionmentary.” So, like the larger-than-life Raquela, who is neither girl nor boy, Amazing Truth is neither documentary nor fiction, but something interestingly caught in between. De Fleur mixes taking-head footage of Raquela’s friends and families with lightly dramatized episodes from the transgendered man’s daily life. It’s a troublesome mix at times—one wonders when, if ever, Raquela would have gotten tested for HIV if it wasn’t for the plot angle that has her working for an Internet sex site—but all of the film’s dramatizations, regardless of how cloyingly they’re propped as examples of Raquela’s perseverance, are all based on actual experiences from Raquela’s life or the lives of other transgendered men. Only a scene where transsexuals are compared to cicadas feels overwritten, but because the performances are so convincing across the board it’s nearly impossible to tell what is truth and what is fiction. And if de Fleur, who has a tendency for over-composition, insists a little too much on giving Raquela a happy ending, it’s a wish-fulfillment that’s at least poignantly keyed to the reality of a subculture whose modes of behavior hinge largely on living out what feels like an unfulfillable fantasy.
- Regent Releasing
- 80 min
- Olaf de Fleur
- Olaf de Fleur
- Raquela Rios, Stefan C. Schaefer, Olivia Galudo, Brax Villa, Valerie Grand Einarsson
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