Just Like a Woman
Directed by Christopher Monger. Starring Julie Walters, Adrian Pasdar, Paul Freedman, Gordon Kennedy.
“He's just a normal heterosexual man, who happens to enjoy dressing up in frocks.” This is the first description Monica (Walters) gives of her new boyfriend Gerald (Pasdar) in this, the latest entry in the suddenly popular cross-dressing comedy genre. When Gerald's wife comes home and finds another woman's clothing spread about her house, she kicks the cheating bum out. She would never have understood that the other woman, Geraldine, had a deeper relationship with her husband than she ever could, since Gerald and Geraldine were the same person. Gerald, needing a new home, rents a spare room in Monica's flat. Monica, recently divorced herself, becomes attracted to her new tenant while also growing curious and slightly jealous of the strange woman who visits his room late at night. Gerald, who is a ruthless businessman by day, must keep his nightlife a secret to protect his high social standing. His business motto is, “Grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.” This is the same approach Just Like a Woman takes to avoid the pitfalls inherent when a film tackles a subject like transvestites. Instead of offensive flippancy or morbid seriousness, the film quickly throws the audience into Gerald's private world and is shown the importance in his life of the small, but active, cross-dressing community. We are also shown the understandable fear he feels each time he dresses up in public. After Gerald tells Monica of his secret practices, the film becomes a uniquely off-kilter and engaging love story. Toward the end of the film, however, something goes wrong. The same character who once convincingly passed off his painted toenails as “Athlete's foot, clears it right up,” cannot invent a decent lie to tell the police when he's pulled over while in dress and full make-up. From here the film spirals toward its lackluster ending. The love story is twisted with the work story to create some strange hybrid revenge tale that seems to say a gal can make it in the workplace, if she's got enough balls. And yet another film that starts out well, ends up making a bad pun of itself.
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