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Tiresia
cast: Laurent Lucas, Clara Choveaux, Thiago Telès, Célia Catalifo

director: Bertrand Bonello

111 minutes (18) 2003
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Tiresias in Greek mythology was various things: both woman and man, blind, and possessed with the gift of prophecy. Bertrand Bonello's film recasts the story in contemporary terms. Tiresia (Clara Choveaux) is a Brazilian prostitute in Paris. Terranova (Laurent Lucas) is obsessed with her. He kidnaps her. Tiresia reveals that she is in fact a male transsexual, taking hormone treatment in readiness for a sex-change operation. As Terranova deprives her of her hormones, her male characteristics begin to return. This displeases Terranova, who blinds Tiresia by stabbing out her eyes with scissors - a scene that's certainly not for the squeamish - and dumping her in the countryside. Anna (Célia Catalifo) looks after her as she recovers. Some years later, Tiresia (played by Thiago Telès) has developed an ability to see into the future.

Bertrand Bonello is a Parisian university professor whose first feature film The Pornographer caused a censorship controversy in the UK. (It would very likely be passed uncut now.) Tiresia is his follow-up. Like its predecessor, it is a mix of intriguing and provocative ideas, let down by ponderous over-length. Bonello broadcasts his film's 'significance' by opening with a lava flow scored to Beethoven's Seventh, an image that recurs in the film. If the role of Tiresia is played by two actors, then Laurent Lucas gets to play two roles - Terranova plus a priest who befriends Tiresia - but the significance of this escaped me. Tiresia is intriguing enough if you stay the course but doesn't live up to its own sense of self-importance.

There's no problem with the anamorphic DVD transfer that Tartan have provided, or with the choice of three soundtracks: 5.1 options in Dolby digital and DTS and an analogue Dolby surround. The extras comprise the theatrical trailer, plus a selection of trailers for other Tartan releases: DiG!, Mean Creek, Who Killed Bambi? and Mysterious Skin.
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