Entertainment & Arts

Stars defend controversial transgender thriller

Michelle Rodriguez in (re)Assignment Image copyright SBS Films
Image caption Rodriguez is best known for her role in the Fast and the Furious film series

A thriller in which a hit-man is forced to undergo gender reassignment surgery has been defended by its stars at its Toronto Film Festival premiere.

In (re)Assignment, Michelle Rodriguez plays a male assassin who awakes to find himself transformed into a woman.

The film has been criticised by some in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community for using surgery as a sensational plot device.

But actress Sigourney Weaver said no-one was "demeaned or denigrated".

The Alien star plays the deranged surgeon who performs the operation. "It's not a Disney movie - it is noir," she said.

At the film's world premiere on Wednesday, its director Walter Hill said: "It's a crime story, it's a noir vision, it's comic book in a way.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The actress was joined by co-star Sigourney Weaver at Wednesday's premiere

"Quite a few women have said to me that after seeing the movie, they feel empowered by it."

Rodriguez, meanwhile, said her own bisexuality inured it from criticism, explaining: "You can't really argue with me because I'm you.

"I'd never do a movie with the intention of offending anybody in the LGBT community because I'm a part of it."

'Staggering idiocy'

The festival's official website calls (re)Assignment a "jaw-droppingly audacious revenge thriller" that "confronts the gender binary on which so much genre cinema is based."

Some reviewers have taken a tougher line, though, with one calling it "a strong contender for 2016's worst movie".

It is, continued The Guardian's critic Benjamin Lee, "a film made with such staggering idiocy that it deserves to be studied by future generations".

The film got equally short shrift from Variety's Dennis Harvey, who dismissed it as "crude", "drab-looking" and "unintentionally funny".

But it got more love from the Hollywood Reporter, whose critic Todd McCarthy found it "deliciously transgressive" and "an instant cult item".

It is not known yet whether (re)Assignment will receive a UK release.

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