(Canada, 77 min.)
Written and directed by Maureen Bradley
Starring: Gavin Crawford, Naomi Snieckus, Gabrielle Rose, Andrea Menard
It might not have been shot on an iPhone, but it seems fair to call Two 4 One "the Tangerine of the Canadian film scene." The LGBQT comedy Two 4 One is even more fun than Tangerine, though, as it brings a warm, funny, and down-to-earth rom-com with a trans-Canadian twist. It’s a winner.
Gavin Crawford (The Hour Has 22 Minutes) stars as Adam, a rugged mattress man who thinks he knows the ins and outs of human behaviour. Just watch him show his stuff when Two 4 One begins with Adam instructing a female customer on the idiosyncrasies of gendered sleeping patterns and he uses his playfully erect ruler to explain how size is only half the battle for balancing a mattress when women tend to sleep on the edge while men revel in the centre. Cut to Adam’s own beddie and he sleeps, surprisingly, teetering on the edge. He then reluctantly, almost consciously, rolls to the middle. Writer/director Maureen Bradley subtly and humorously shows that finding comfort in one’s own skin takes practice.
This BC-shot comedy feels very relevant as it lovingly uses the Victoria shoreline and peppers the soundtrack with contemporary Canadian artists to guide an unconventional love story. (The use of Rae Spoon is a spot-on soundtrack choice.) Two 4 One eventually reveals that Adam began his journey as Melanie when Melanie’s ex Miriam (Naomi Snieckus) enlists her help in getting pregnant. Adam hasn’t taken the final steps in her transformation—the sight gag with the ruler works on a few levels—but he nevertheless helps his old flame get aroused as she artificially inseminates herself to fulfill her dream of being a mom. Adam finds that this return of his old lover multiply conflicting when his doctor informs him that he is pregnant. Inevitably, Adam’s maternal side comes calling just when he wants to shed the remaining parts of Melanie.
Two 4 One puts a contemporary spin on parental comedy much like 2005’s Transamerica puts a refreshing trans-twist on the road movie. Like Transamerica or the current Tangerine, the film offers a different narrative for trans characters in film as its smart and funny script puts Adam in an open and exciting comedic scenario that rings with universal emotions. At the heart of Two 4 One is a bittersweet study of the choice to become a parent as Adam and Miriam alike find themselves in soul-searching situations that challenges them to reflect upon what they want from life. It’s very funny, open, and honest: anyone can relate to the dilemmas that Adam faces because they’re rooted in insecurities that many people share.
On one level, the film works an utterly winning rom-com love triangle as Adam and Miriam flirt with reconciliation and Miriam struggles with settling her own desires for motherhood against her betrayal of pursuing a pregnancy behind the back of her current partner, Julia (Andrea Menard), who openly doesn’t want kids. The push and pull between Adam’s love for Miriam, and hers for him, inevitably ties itself to each other’s sexuality, as each former flame blames the other’s sexual preferences for their split. (Adam says that Miriam stopped loving him when Melanie identified as a man, while Miriam cites Adam’s reluctance to be polyamorous for their break-up.) The humorous dynamic between the two is a very funny and candid dialogue about the struggle to articulate variances in sexual orientation even in the contemporary age.
On another level, though, Two 4 One smartly looks at low the idea of parenting as a heteronormative trait is inherently changing. The film shows the challenges that same-sex couples experience while pursing parenthood, but it also contextualizes the practices used to create families are still born out of love. Similarly, Adam’s own conflict in resolving the pregnancy shows that the rights of trans-people aren’t adequately covered in laws and practices that still define gender in clear-cut male/female binaries. Adam, who identifies as male despite still have a uterus, ovaries, and a fetus, can’t qualify for a termination because he’s legally identified himself as such.
Crawford is very good as Adam. He brings an open and likeable hero as Adam struggles with the different elements that make his transition more difficult than he wants it to be. The warmth, sensitivity, and, above all, accessibility of this performance makes Adam’s plight both endearing and relevant. Snieckus is just as good as Miriam and brings a down-to-earth sense of humour that gives the film a big heart as Miriam and Adam alike find that the road to normality is anything but.
The pair of leads finds great support in the touching presence of Gabrielle Rose as Adam’s mother Franny, who finds herself in her own conflict when Adam reveals his pregnancy and Franny experiences the prospective thrill of being a grandparent that she long laid to rest. Rose gives her best performance in quite some time as Franny brings some of Two 4 Ones best laughs and most poignant chords alike the grandma-to-be helps her son understand the complicated experience of childbirth while remaining sensitive and respectful of the experience he’s already undergone. “You’d make a great father,” she says sincerely before fondling the pink baby clothes tucked away in her box of Melanie memories. Two 4 One uses a trio of strong, dynamic characters to convey the varied experiences of being a parent and a child alike in families of all spectrums. It’s refreshing to see several permutations of families in Two 4 One and note that none of them fit convention. Featuring great performances and a funny, insightful take on love and family, Two 4 One is one of the year’s best surprises.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of ★★★★★)
Two 4 One hits iTunes nationwide and opens in Toronto at the Carlton on Friday, July 17 from Hoggwild Films.