Sexuality is a complicated thing. It always has been. It's only recently that acceptance has slowly started creeping into society. The acceptance of who a person is on the inside, leaving the outer characteristics to be dealt with by the individual, in whatever way they feel suits them. However, just as sexuality is a complicated thing - so is societies levels of acceptance. It's a slow journey and by no means simple - or finished.
There are many who rally for complete acceptance and neutrality. None of this half and half crap so many live by. The notion it's alright to accept and agree through the mouth is strong, but many of these people feel and live the exact opposite privately. To be politically correct yet resent, and even hate the reality, is where many people are today. Complicating matters even more is the long standing idea that parents always know best. Even when they couldn't be further off track. What follows is usually a tug-of-war, followed by a clever manipulation of the parent to get what they feel is best for their child. Usually, the parents are correct in their calculating pushes... but "Accepting Her" is not about a common situation. It's about a complicated one. For myself, the entire idea of this short film gives it power. Had the production itself been sub-standard, this still would have been a great dramatic story. Since it isn't, at the end of the day Ndubuisi(ND) Aja has presented a powerful movie. Thoughtful yet sad. The way a good drama should be done.
So what's the story here? Tory has been born with a condition that does not fit the typical binary notion, of a male or female body. After the sudden, and tragic loss of her supportive mother, Tory is sent to live with her father. A man who is anything but understanding. What follows is a calculating game with one goal. To force Tory to sign up for gender reassignment surgery.
This is all done in a real, gritty, and sometimes mean way - yet one thing I noticed? Tory's father may be the bad guy here, but you can't simply say he's an evil man. He does what he thinks is best for his child. Even knowing the means may be brutal, the end is all that matters to him. It's an interesting take and one that completely adds to this story. Bravo on a great screenplay. Bravo indeed.
Technically this is a very stylistic and polished film. Especially for a micro budget piece, everything just seems to add to the story. From a highly contrasted and dull visual experience, straight through to the interesting use of audio and the soundtrack itself. "Accepting Her" puts you in the mood of it's main character right from the start.
The cast, led by Tegan Westall as Tory, deliver surprisingly real and heartfelt performances all around. Westall herself makes sure you understand the nature of her character, and everyone around her seems to fall into place - feeling completely authentic and real. A scene within the first act of the film I believe, consisting of an argument with Tory and her father, really left it's mark on me. Setting things up for the rest of the film. Jason Bailey as Dad, really brought the grit and hardships of tough love. Doing what he believed was for Tory - yet also without words, understanding that he just may be wrong. Things will all work out for the better though - right? A sentiment many parents the world over share. Forcing the hand of your children, to make what you think is the right choice, is what parenting is about. Even if that means hard times for others - it's all worth it in the end. Well... usually.
The bottom line for me is that this didn't feel like an indie production. When you consider a story such as this, a combined cast of extremely talented people, and a mood expertly set via the production and post production work... how could it feel cheap? "Accepting Her" is not the happy ending film we hope it will be. It's geared more to real life. Problems. Ego. Mistakes and that nagging feeling we don't belong. This is not a film for the hopefuls of the world - but it does have a message to send. Without question, "Accepting Her" easily earns it's stars. A solid four out of five.