From here to fra­ter­nity

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Rob DeWalt The New Mex­i­can

Prodi­gal Sons, frac­tured-fam­ily doc­u­men­tary, not rated, CCA Cine­math­eque, 4 chiles

IWhen Paul McKer­row was go­ing to high school in He­lena, Mon­tana, he was the star of the foot­ball team, the class pres­i­dent, the tow­headed ap­ple of his par­ents’ eyes, and, ac­cord­ing to a page in his se­nior year­book, quite a hit with the ladies. Paul’s pop­u­lar­ity, how­ever, did not rub off on his adopted brother, Marc, who strug­gled in his classes, loved to drink, drove reck­lessly, and wound up not grad­u­at­ing from high school. When Marc was 21, he suf­fered a trau­matic brain in­jury that trig­gered a seizure dis­or­der and be­hav­ioral prob­lems that wors­ened af­ter a por­tion of his brain was re­moved. Paul, on the other hand, was class vale­dic­to­rian. Un­for­tu­nately, though, Paul was also trapped in the wrong body.

Af­ter mov­ing to San Fran­cisco for gen­der-re­as­sign­ment surgery fol­low­ing high school, Paul — now a les­bian named Kimberly Reed — be­came a filmmaker. Her goal in mak­ing Prodi­gal Sons, which has gar­nered a num­ber of film-fes­ti­val jury prizes and other ac­co­lades, was to trace her brother’s path from liv­ing in Paul’s shadow dur­ing child­hood to cop­ing with his phys­i­cal and emo­tional strug­gles and ac­cept­ing his trans­gen­dered sib­ling in the present day. As Reed puts it, “Marc al­ways wanted to be the man I didn’t want to be.”

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