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

The growing pains of a transgender activist
Brandon Watson, 6:50pm, Sat. Mar. 8

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

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