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It’s 1987. Teased hair and electronic music are all the rage.

Robin is the new kid in class, and everyone is confused about their gender. The androgynous teen doesn’t feel the need to explain themself, and this keeps Trevor Anderson’s Before I Change My Mind from spoon-feeding its audience answers. People with identities outside the gender binary exist, period. If anyone has questions, Google might have some answers, but that is beyond the scope of Anderson’s story.

Robin (portrayed by Vaughan Murrae, whose look may have been inspired by a mix of out transgender actor Elliott Page, and Hilary Swank’s portrayal of Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Peirce,1999).) has just moved to Alberta, likes to draw, and has some unresolved family issues. More importantly, they have a crush on the class bully. Teenagers in the 80s were prone to violence even if it may have been seen as harmless back then. Bullying, racial profiling, beating up the new kid, even just name-calling, are all acts of violence. One might expect those things from the school jerk. But even victims of violence can in turn inflict violence on others. Robin may be the protagonist. They may be portrayed in a way that audiences would empathize with them. But could Robin be attracted to their crush because his violent acts seem familiar and enticing?

Though a complete picture isn’t painted about what happened to Robin’s mother, it’s clear that the kid has lingering trauma. They are easily triggered when witnessing aggressive behavior around them. But teens are teens, and they often push boundaries – shoplifting, pranks, hurting their friends just for the heck of it. It’s some form of adrenaline rush for a hormonal young person still learning about life. They sometimes dabble in things they know are ‘wrong’ or could harm others. Robin, in that sense is like most adolescents. Even if others’ violence sends them into full-on panic, somehow it seems acceptable for them to perform aggressive acts when push comes to shove (forgive the pun!). Put a weapon in a kid’s hand, and they might use it even if only out of curiosity.

A refreshed take on the teen coming of age genre.

 

Before I Change My Mind – October 12th, 2022 at 5 PM.

https://nouveaucinema.ca/ for location and ticketing details.

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