SXSW Film Review: 'Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story'

The growing pains of a transgender activist

It's difficult for film to capture pain without sadism; it's more difficult still for that pain to have purpose.

In Lady Valor, we see former Navy Seal and transgender activist Kristin Beck rifle through pain medication and apply heat patches, daily reminders of her seven combat deployments. We see her tear up discussing her estranged relationship with her two sons. The wounds are so fresh, one can help but wince.

But without wounds, there is no healing. And ultimately, Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog's documentary never quite allows the bruises to form. Throughout the film, Beck is misgendered. Her friends give her hurtful if well-meaning advice, explaining away others' hate as a simple matter of opinion. Still, she soldiers on. There is no trace of bitterness, no subtext of resentment. Beck is so matter-of-fact, we forget she’s doing so much heavy lifting.

Which is why this film about pain will leave most in the audience smiling. While most films render their heroes in chiaroscuro, Beck is unafraid of the gray. Healing doesn’t always mean perfection. It’s simply the process of getting better.


Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story


Documentary Spotlight, World Premiere
Sunday, March 9, 7:15pm, Alamo Village
Tuesday, March 11, 2pm, Topfer

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. For scheduling on the go, here's a SXSW Film Pocket Guide, which includes the handy Film Grid. Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters/ for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

READ MORE
More South by Southwest
SXSW Expands SouthBites Programming
SXSW Expands SouthBites Programming
David Chang announced as featured speaker

Brandon Watson, Sept. 30, 2014

Two More Acquisitions for SXSW Alumni
Two More Acquisitions for SXSW Alumni
'Honeymoon' and 'Thank You a Lot' picked up

Monica Riese, March 28, 2014

More SXSW
So What Is <i>Trainspotting </i> Anyway?
So What Is Trainspotting Anyway?
Choose life. Choose a sequel. Choose director Danny Boyle.

Richard Whittaker, March 24, 2017

SXSW Music Live: The Roots & Friends
SXSW Music Live: The Roots & Friends
“This is the best shit of the whole South By!”

Thomas Fawcett, March 19, 2017

More by Brandon Watson
Review: Eberly
Review: Eberly
Style reigns over substance at South Lamar hot spot

March 24, 2017

East Austin Urban Farm Tour Announces Lineup
East Austin Urban Farm Tour Announces Lineup
Tickets on sale now for annual food crawl

March 20, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

South by Southwest, SXSW, SXSW 2014, SXSW Film 2014, Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story, transgender, Kristin Beck, Sandrine Orabona, Mark Herzog, Navy Seal, LGBT, Chris Beck

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)