Movie Review: Zerophilia (2006)
Review by J. Rocci
Rated: No rating, contains sexual material and some drug content
Starring: Taylor Handley, Dustin Seavey, Alison Folland, Kyle Schmid, Rebecca Mozo, and Marieh Delfino
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
In this provocative teen comedy, Luke, a young man insecure about his masculinity discovers he's a Zerophiliac, with the ability to change sex at will. Join Luke as he journeys into the extraordinary world of Zerophilia where so many crazy questions arise, only one question matters: "Whom do you love?"
The entire premise of this movie intrigued me, but I held off watching it for over two years because of the synopsis above. You see, I don't generally do teen comedies, especially when they're focused on something as sensitive as gender and sexuality, because I think we've all seen that train go horribly off the rails. Luckily, I did finally sit down to watch Zerophilia and I was pleasantly surprised.
The young cast of twenty-somethings, plus the actress who plays Sophie on Leverage, deliver remarkably earnest performances (and aren't too hard on the eyes, no matter what flavor you prefer). The script has its cheesy moments and is often tongue-in-cheek, but has Luke taking a serious introspective tour of himself. Issues that other films would laugh off, like the first time Luke transforms into Luca and is exploring his female body, are handled with an appropriate gravitas to make you truly believe this is a male who has changed into a female against his will and he's not sure he likes it. He struggles to come to terms with the fact that, while raised male, he can change his gender through orgasms (or, at times, just being aroused), and in a way, it's like he's hit a second puberty in college, with all the emotional upheaval that entails.
But that entire journey of self-acceptance right there? It's the driving force of the movie. Through conversations with his friends, Keenan and Janine, we get to see Luke re-define his own concept of gender identity. When he meets Michelle and finds himself changing every time he speaks to her, you sympathize with his frustration. When he meets her brother as Luca and realizes he's attracted to Max, too?
That's where the film starts delving into issues of sexuality and how we define attraction.
I won't spoil the ending's twist, but I will say that it left me with feelings of hope and romantic fluffiness. The issues of gender and sexuality the film raises could have been brushed off with slapstick and apple pies, but instead we're given the story of one man's personal journey and can easily ask the same questions of ourselves.
How would I react in that situation? There are no easy answers, and the film doesn't try to simplify it for us. I think watching Luke grow as a person and come to terms with himself, even the times when he (or the script) stumbles, was a rewarding experience.