Childhood is already rough. Being a queer pre-teen adds layers of challenge. Even in 2022, many parents are still kicking out their offspring for being “too tough to handle”. These are the words Julien’s mother says to him before asking him to leave. His hair is dyed an outrageous color, his clothing is ambiguously-gendered, and he has a black eye. And all his progenitor cares about is how he’s embarrassing her in front of another parent. A white woman, at that.
In Joseph Amenta’s Soft, Julien is Filipino. Queer people of color are more likely to be rejected by their family, end up on the streets, and be targeted for hate crimes. The suicide rate in the LGBTQ+ community is elevated, but markedly higher in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community. Julien’s best friends are also POC. The trio comes across at first as obnoxious, foul-mouthed truants. But what they share is more than skin deep. We can’t help but feel endeared to these cute kids. Maybe Julien instigates trouble, maybe he pulls his friends into bad situations, but in the end, he’s still just a cute kid, like many others his age.
Perhaps it is partly why he is lovingly taken in by a trans woman who seems to do sex work from their shared dwelling. She accepts him for all that he is, and vice versa, even if Julien may not fully grasp the meaning of his unofficial guardian’s job, or why she struggles to pay rent, and ultimately, why she one day disappears into thin air.
A slice of urban life and friendship in Toronto from a prepubescent queer perspective.
Soft – October 14th, 2022 at 9:15 PM.
https://nouveaucinema.ca/ for location and ticketing details.