Alice Júnior (2019)

Alice Júnior
Director: Gil Baroni
Writer: Luiz Bertazzo, Adriel Nizer Silva
Cast: Anna Celestino Mota, Emmanuel Rosset, Thaís Schier, Surya Amitrano, Matheus Moura, Katia Horn, Igor Augustho, Marcel Szymanski, Cida Rolim
Seen on: 2.12.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia

Alice Júnior (Anna Celestino Mota) was the first trans participant in Brazil’s Teenage Top Model and has built quite a social media following from there. She is well-accepted in her school and she hopes to finally get her first kiss soon. That’s when her father Jean Genet (Emmanuel Rosset) announces that he got a new job and that they’d have to move to the middle of nowhere. Alice Júnior is horrified at the idea of leaving her life behind, but she doesn’t have much of a choice. Settling into a new place is hard enough as is, but harder still when you unwillingly leave a good place and land in a school where transmisia is still alive and well. Fortunately, though, Alice Júnior is not easily discouraged, and there are some nice people in the new place as well.

Alice Júnior is a fun, sweet film with an engaging heroine. It is also a take on being a trans teenager that is different from the (few) stories we usually get to see about this topic. I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing a pink and blue headshot of Alice Júnior (Anna Celestino Mota).

On the face of things, Alice Júnior looks like a coming-of-age like we’ve seen many more before. But that is only the surface level because it is rather revolutionary that we get a coming-of-age film with a trans protagonist. Especially since it’s not a story about how dire and hard it is to be trans. Quite to the contrary, Alice Júnior has a supportive father and is very sure of herself, and she is joyful, energetic and fun.

That doesn’t mean that the film glosses over transmisia and discrimination. Not at all. But every second along the way it is clear that what is wrong is not being trans, but being discriminated against for it. This decisive difference is one that often gets lost when a film focuses too much on the difficulties trans people have to face in a cisnormative society. Often it feels that being trans must inevitably lead to unhappiness.

Alice Júnior (Anna Celestino Mota) showing her middle finger.

But that’s not the only thing that the film gets right, or subverts a little. That Alice Júnior has a crush on her best friend’s boyfriend is resolved nicely, I thought, and in an equally unusual fashion, as I generally liked the characters that are not all that stereotypical, I thought. And the by now almost obligatory inclusion of social media into the film was done in a very charming way.

Mota is a wonderful choice for the role and infuses the film with great warmth and energy. The film wouldn’t work without her. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to.

In short, it’s a wonderful film that is quietly revolutionary under a layer of fun and that really should be seen.

Alice Júnior (Anna Celestino Mota), Taísa (Surya Amitrano) and Bruno (Matheus Moura) huddled together.

Summarizing: awesome.

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