It is rare a film with an obviously small budget manages to still hit the mark. Venus directed by Eisha Marjara (Desperately Seeking Helen) accomplishes just that. It is no small feat either as it has plenty going against it besides the small budget. The fact that it is a Canadian film means that there will be little money for anything – production values or promotion. It is a film about a transgender woman undergoing the transition and coming out as a woman to everyone in her life – son, boyfriend, former girlfriend, co-workers, and East Indian parents. The subject is niche. Not one that will interest the masses. Still it perseveres with everything it has against it. Just like lead character Sid.
Having a lot on her plate, Sid (Debargo Sanyal – Everybody’s Fine, The Magic of Belle Isle) is hanging on by a thread. Not only is she going through the transition from a male to a female and all that entails, but she also finds out that she is the father of a 14-year-old boy named Ralph (Jamie Mayers – from television’s Game On). Oh, and did I mention that Sid is also trying to figure out her romantic life with her partner, Daniel (Pierre-Yves Cardinal – Tom a la Ferme, Polytechnique). Last but not least she is also trying to make her Indian parents, Papaji (Gordon Warnecke – My Beautiful Laundrette) and her confused mother (Zena Darawalla – Look Who’s Talking).
Venus is Eisha Marjara’s first feature film. She shows none of the hesitation you might expect from a newbie. In fact, she has made films before, but of the documentary and short varieties. Fearless is a word you would use to describe Marjara. This is not the first time she has explored a film about the transgender community. What separates her and her film from others who exploit the population for cheap laughs or the freak factor is the warmness, realism and humour it approaches the subject with. Her main character (Marjara wrote the script as well) is warm, witty and flawed. In other words, just like most of us. Instantly relatable as a human being.
It is not only about gender and what that means in today’s world, but the clash of culture and generations that make up this thoroughly enjoyable tale. Many laughs to be had when Sid and her mother get together. Neither understands the other and plenty of laughs ensue.