A trans woman’s life told mostly in flashbacks
Strictly for the Birds is described as a film about a transgender woman who claims her identity and finds love at the age of 65. We are introduced to Kate as she starts her new life in a senior community. Interspersed with her acclimation to the community are flashbacks to her early years and her growing awareness of her gender dysphoria.
The movie is a transgender biopic based on In Between, A Memoir by Kate Birdsall. The two main characters in the film are played by Kate and her real-life partner Andrea Drury.
The story of Kate’s current life in an adult community in Portland is interspersed with flashbacks to specific scenes in her life as Dan, both as a boy and a man. However, I found this storyline very disjointed and thin.
The significant moments in Kate’s life do not resonate nor make for an engaging film. There are many vignettes but no continuity of a life. These snippets were not enough for me. They did not add substance to the main character. Most of these vignettes portray the same points repeatedly.
We see Dan dress like a woman. We hear him talk about cross-dressing to friends, family, and partners. But most of his life is mentioned in passing; little is shown, so we never get a feeling for who Dan was for 65 years. You will see the snippets and hear Kate’s comments. But the only thing you learn is that Dan wanted to dress like a woman. The audience comes away from this movie knowing neither Dan nor Kate, never emotionally engaged with either of them. All we are shown is Kate reflected through the eyes of others.
There are some very moving scenes in the movie. The portrayal of Kate’s attempts to develop a relationship with her daughter is well done and very moving. The scenes where Kate’s daughter learns to support and accept her transgender parent are very engaging and meaningful. Also, although they are a minor part of the film, the scenes portraying Andrea’s awakening about loving a woman portray her struggles with these new feelings and emotions. It is accomplished with a great deal of sensitivity. Unfortunately, the viewer does not find the same portrayal of the struggle within the main character.
The soundtrack by Wonderly was very good and greatly enhanced the film.
The movie Strictly for the Birds tells an important story of coming to terms with gender identity and sexuality, and while it may be engaging to others, it does not contain enough of a story to be very engaging to me.