XXY is a 2007 Argentine-Spanish-French drama film written and directed by Lucía Puenzo. Starring Ricardo Darín, Valeria Bertuccelli, Inés Efron, and Martín Piroyansky, the film tells the story of a 15-year-old intersex person, the way her family copes with her condition and the ultimate decision that she must eventually make as she finds her gender identity.
XXY received positive reviews from critics, winning the Critics' Week grand prize at the 2007 Cannes film festival, as well as the ACID/CCAS Support Award. It was nominated for eight awards at the 2008 Argentine Film Critics Association Awards, winning three of them including Best Film, and was nominated or won awards at a number of other foreign film festivals. It was chosen to close the 2008 Melbourne Queer Film Festival and had a short run theatrical release before being released onto DVD. The film also won the Goya Award for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film and the Golden Crow Pheasant at the International Film Festival of Kerala.
The film's title appears to be a reference to Klinefelter syndrome, a condition in which individuals have an extra X sex chromosome. Those affected with Klinefelter syndrome often do not show highly-visible symptoms and are not aware of their condition, unless diagnosed later in life (usually due to infertility). It can be ascertained throughout the film that the main character has typical female sexual characteristics, with the exception of an enlarged clitoris, although this is coupled with an apparent hormonal regimentation.
Alex Kraken is a 15-year-old intersex person, with both male and female genitals, who has been living as a girl and using medicines to suppress masculine features, such as a beard, and to attempt to have more feminine features. However, recently Alex has stopped taking her medication.
Alex's parents moved with her from Argentina to a village by the sea in Uruguay, to avoid the city society's discriminatory views. Her father, Néstor Kraken, is a marine biologist who has written a book on sexuality and makes a living treating wounded animals found by fishermen. Her mother, Suli, invites friends from Argentina: a surgeon, his wife and teenage son Álvaro. The purpose, unknown to Néstor and Alex, is to discuss the possibilities of sex reassignment surgery, of which Suli hopes Alex will be female as per her wishes to her birth.
Alex directly tells Álvaro that she would like to have sex with him. Alex seduces Álvaro and begins to have anal intercourse with him (with her as the penetrative partner). Álvaro is surprised, but does not stop Alex; however Nestor catches sight of them through the door and Alvaro rushes out feeling conflicted and still in a panic at the unexpected reversal in sexual roles. When Alex later apologizes, Álvaro reveals that he liked it.
Later, three curious boys from the village sexually assault Alex by forcibly pulling down her pants to see her genitals. Néstor realizes that reporting this to the police would cause the whole village to know about Alex's condition. However, Alex decides that it does not matter. Alex also decides that she does not want to resume taking medicines or have an operation. She says, "What if there is nothing to choose?"Ricardo Darín as Néstor Kraken
Valeria Bertuccelli as Suli Kraken
Inés Efron as Alex Kraken
Martín Piroyansky as Álvaro
Carolina Peleritti as Erika
Guillermo Angelelli as Juan
César Troncoso as Washington
Jean Pierre Reguerraz as Esteban
Ailín Salas as Roberta
Luciano Martín Nóbile as Vando
Lucas Escariz as Saul
Alex keeps aquariums full of clownfish. Clownfish are protandrous hermaphrodites: all individuals are initially male, and may later become female. This example of a hermaphroditic organism in nature is repeated throughout the film.
The sea animal motif recurs in the family name Kraken, which is also the name of a mythical sea monster.
The film received generally favorable reviews from critics. The film-critics aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reported 82% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 44 reviews, with an average score of 6.8/10. The critical consensus is: "This sharp directorial debut by Lucia Puenzo treats the challenging subject of intersex with intelligence and sensitivity." Metacritic, which assigns a standardized score out of 100, rated the film 67 based on 15 reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews." Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars of out 4.