Meet Robert Eads, a 52-year-old Georgian, who, in his leather jacket, black cowboy hat, scruffy beard and tinted shades, seems every inch the southern gentleman. And he is, save for one minor detail: Robert was once Barbara, a married woman with two kids who, at a certain point in her life, decided it was time to start living as the man she always felt herself to be. Barbara changed her name, underwent hormone therapy and "top surgery" (a double mastectomy), and her journey across the gender line that our culture holds to be impenetrable was complete. This fascinating documentary from filmmaker Kate Davis follows Robert and his transgendered girlfriend Lola (née John) for nearly a year as they go about their lives in rural Taccoa, Ga. But as interesting as they are, the details of Robert and Lola's life together, and the lives of their transsexual friends who've somehow managed to find one another out in the hinterlands of Georgia's Blue Mountains, are not the primary focus of this heartfelt and ultimately heartbreaking film. In a cruel twist of fate, Robert is dying of ovarian cancer ("The last part of me that's female is killing me," Robert bitterly quips, alive to the irony), and this is a poignant document of his final months. Rather than sinking under the morbidity of a deathwatch, however, Davis's film is a powerful testament to Robert's bravery (in both his unconventional life and his painful death) and his determination to make it to one last Southern Comfort convention — the annual gathering of transgendered men and women that lends the film its title. Unfortunately, the film also stands as a disturbing indictment of an intolerant healthcare community: It seems each of Robert friends has at least one horror story about shockingly shabby treatment received at the hands of doctors unwilling to treat transsexuals as anything more that third-class citizens.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: NR
- Review: Meet Robert Eads, a 52-year-old Georgian, who, in his leather jacket, black cowboy hat, scruffy beard and tinted shades, seems every inch the southern gentleman. And he is, save for one minor detail: Robert was once Barbara, a married woman with two kids w… (more)