The closing credits for Yongyoot Thongkongtoon’s The Iron Ladies could be read as director’s apologia for the film’s very existence. Footage of the actual Iron Ladies, a gay and transsexual volleyball team that took Thailand by storm in the late ’90s, proves that they are every bit the bitch queens depicted in the film. Iron Ladies will do killer business on streets Castro and Christopher (ghetto queens need their yearly dose of glib gay lore), a depressing fact for several reasons—not only is the film patently offensive, but it could quite possibly set the gay movement back several years. Well-meaning, yes, but horribly dated—it’s as if the cast and crew stumbled upon homosexuality during a Flip Wilson retrospective. Pick any underdog sports film from the past two decades (The Mighty Ducks, Hoosiers) and re-imagine their cast of archetypes as nelly drag queens and you have Iron Ladies in a pink nutshell. The girls break their nails while hitting their volleyballs, giggle hysterically in the presence of sausage, and discover that they amount to very little without a quart of foundation on their faces. Thongkongtoon may want to advance Thai thinking but Iron Ladies is painfully retroactive. The team’s coach is a lesbian (at least presumably so) whose defense of homosexuality is as stilted as the film’s cowardly desexualizations (no queen here gets as much as one on-screen kiss, even Pia, the film’s gorgeous transsexual). Iron Ladies won’t so much mend homo wounds in Thailand than it will coax passive stereotypes into the country’s daily way of life. The Ladies are less hated than they are innocently teased, and with good reason. When they hit the courts, their idea of strategy is shocking their opponents into submission.
- Strand Releasing
- 104 min
- Yongyoot Thongkongtoon
- Visuthichai Boonyakarinjana, Jira Maligool, Yongyoot Thongkongtoon
- Chaichan Nimpoonsawas, Sahaparp Virakamin, Giorgio Maiocchi, Gokgorn Benjathikul, Jessdaporn Pholdee, Ekachai Buranapanit, Siridhana Hongsophon
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