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Der kleine Unterschied - Different For Girls

(1996)

A romantic gender-bender, the film first flashes back to the Seventies when two young boys, Karl and Paul, were best friends, When they meet again, accidentally, twenty years later, Paul does not recognize Karl who is now an attractive transsexual named Kim. She, on the other hand, has no problem recognizing her old trouble-making pal and has no desire to reveal her "true" identity to him - she just wants to get on with her quiet, orderly new life.

Paul is strangely attracted to Kim, and is shocked when he finally recognizes her. When Kim reveals that she has actually changed her sex, he freaks out. As Paul proceeds to wreck Kim's new life, the mismatched pair embark on a wild journey and end up forging a different and surprising relationship.

Directed by: Richard Spence
Produced by: John Chapman
Screenplay by: Tony Marchant
Cast: Rupert Graves as Paul Prentice
Steven Mackintosh as Karl/Kim Foyle
Charlotte Coleman as Alison
Neil Dudgeon as Neil
Saskia Reeves as Jean
Miriam Margolyes as Pamela
Nisha K. Nayar as Angela
Ian Dury as Recovery Agent
Lia Williams as Defence Solicitor
Robert Pugh

**************************

A taxi crawls through the clogged streets of London, its
passenger a demure, well-dressed professional woman. The cab
suddenly lurches down an alley, crashing into a motorcycle
messenger on a job. Chaos ensues, but no one is hurt. The
messenger, Prentice, is fascinated by this passenger, Kim. She
seems familiar. He thinks she's someone from his past -- from
school perhaps? But he went to an all-boys Catholic school,
where his only friend was Karl.

As it turns out, Karl is now Kim. Kim has gone through a huge
transformation, not the least of which was transitioning from
male to female. She has matured, whereas Prentice hasn't changed
much in the years since school. He is still the quirky, tough
kid grappling with his own feelings of inadequacy. This is not a
match made in heaven, but there is an electricity between the
two which makes the unfolding of their story a total delight.

The true brilliance of Different for Girls is that it plays out
in a conventional manner. Prentice and Kim are just like any two
people trying to understand their feelings and carve out a
comfortable place where they can love and be loved. Director
Richard Spence should be applauded for the subtle,
unexploitative way he allows their story to tell itself, and
Steven Mackintosh and Rupert Graves are priceless as the couple
learning to accept each other and themselves. Above all else,
Different for Girls is a love story for everybody. -- John
Cooper

*************************

When they were English schoolboys in the 1970s, it was always Paul who
fearlessly defended the effeminate Karl from the taunts and threats of
classmates. Two decades later, when they literally run into each other
on a London street, straight-as-a-string motorbike messenger Paul
(Rupert Graves) recognizes his boyhood friend, even though Karl is now
Kim (Steven Mackintosh), a prim, post-operative transsexual.
Neither has changed that much. Paul is still a loose cannon with a
hyperactive personality and a hair-trigger temper. Although Kim has a
good job writing greeting cards, a nice apart ment, and the acceptance
of her family, she is subdued and defensive, as if she doesn't expect to
be believed as a woman any more than she was as a man.
Different for Girls puts the reunited pair through a series of mostly
harrowing paces-they narrowly avoid being beaten up at a punk bar and
are arrested by homophobic cops who think they're a gay couple--that
make clear their mutual attraction, class differences, conflicting
personalities, and penchant for trouble. When Paul reminds Kim that he's
straight, she shoots back, "So am I" And when he asks her to explain how
her body has changed, Kim's description gives the embarrassed Paul an
erection that results in his panicked exit.
[Image]
Director Richard Spence builds the repressed eroticism of the
reconfigured relationship to a simmering eleventh-hour love scene, and
it's refreshing to see a screen transsexual who doesn't lip-synch "I
Will Survive" to establish her credentials. The couple's transition from
mismatched misfits to a postmodern Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr may
strain credulity, and a subplot involving Kim's sister (Saskia Reeves)
is a wash. But these drawbacks don't dull Different for Girls' double
edge. Although the lovers are identified as heterosexual, it's two men
up there on the screen kissing, having sex, and falling in love.
Those who remember Mackintosh as the anarchic punk rocker in The Buddha
of Suburbia and the vicious drug lord of Prime Suspect 5 will be
startled by his convincing performance as Kim; and, in a far cry from
his stylized Merchant-Ivory days (A Room With a View, Maurice), Graves
is electric as the volatile Paul. In his feature debut, screenwriter
Tony Marchant has written what is essentially the first gay-to-straight
comingout movie. It may not be flawless, but it certainly is compelling.

Bob Satuloff has written for Christopher Street and New York Native

************************
If you are transsexual (I am), this film will be everything from warmly familiar to utterly inspiring. You will be amazed at how absolutely believable Steven Mackintosh is as a transsexual living in London, post-op, fearful, wanting to be left alone, yet strong from the transition and determined to live. There's a boy in the face and figure, but absolutely a woman! And you will be inspired at how life can be for a TS who stands up for herself. She has a cute job writing greeting cards (and some wonderful working-girl outfits) and on her way to work encounters the best friend she knew as a boy. He is living a hand-to-mouth existence as a delivery boy, and once their lives intertwine again, the protective boyhood friendhip turns to love and respect as Kim teaches him about transexuality and what she has become.

If you are not a transsexual, you will get a good education on not only what a transsexual has to do to transition her gender, but what she has to be to survive in the real world. You will see that inside a Male-to-Female (MTF) transsexual there is a woman - a real one with the passions and sensibilities and grace of a woman. You will feel life with her as she has to handle a very scary situation when her friend gets in trouble with the police. You will see how hard, and yet how necessary it is for a transsexual to make a stand for a friend and for herself amid the misunderstanding of the world around her.

*****************
This is actually an interesting, touching and reflective film. Two friends meet up accidently 16 years after their last meeting when both attended an all boys school. Only now one of them is a girl.Slowly even hesitantly the two get reaquainted. Prentice (the gorgeous Rupert Graves!) has aged but has not grown up---he still acts like a teenager. He has no aspirations except it appears to just get by. Kim, previously known as Karl at school, is a quiet determined professional. On the surface there is nothing that would suggests that two would be friends, let alone lovers. But each sees in the other something that is not physical---each has a goodness which transcends physicality. Kim while feminine in her actions, gestures and thoughts she is still very masculine in physique. This is why almost everyone else thinks she is a transvestite. The movie doesn't work on all levels. The conclusion is formula but the characters, Prentice and Kim, are poignant. The theme of being different and the longing to fit in are explored very subtley.Worth seeing. 3.5 stars


***************
it's boy meets girl -- though they already know each other from having gone to school together many years ago... an ALL BOYS school. yes, the girl used to be a boy. This is a British film and it has lots of 1980's Brit-alt-rock - the songs ROCK! ("Ever Fallen In Love" by The Buzzcocks for example) The story is fast-paced and doesn't bore. a bit of drama comes when the two friends are tossed into a paddy wagon by some acerbic cops. one of the themes in this movie is just precious: with a simple kind action you can positively alter someone's psyche forever!

***************
Prentice and Kim the main characters apparently are total opposites; but become stronger as they help one another in many levels to overcome flaws, fears, insecurities etc.

There are not many transgender films, and specially one with a happy end which can be credible.
Though Prentice seems rough and unpolished, he remains noble and good hearted since his days in High School, while not protecting Kim as much he learns to accept her and tries to discover the ways he can relate to the "person". The relationship is one of friendship where he has no barriers to express what he thinks and feels, he sees Kim as his buddy and later on as his female buddy-lover, without ever loosing respect.

Kim, though remaining fragile, distrustful, distant and insecure, lets herself be beautiful, and most important of all to be loved. The table turns, and prentice is the one who needs the protection/help from Kim.

They both step out of their day to day routine, to experiment life without prejudice and to see through their own eyes who they are. And perhaps that is the clue to a healthy relationship, to work as a team.

Good acting, good movie, good end.