Saturday, February 4, 2023

Film review: Octavio is Dead is emotionally satisfying

A gentle ghost story about what it means to become a woman

Octavio is Dead is a pyscho-sexual ghost story that is both fascinating and at times provoking.

It’s been almost ten years since writer-director Sook-Yin Lee’s debut feature film, and it was worth the wait.

Tyler, played magnificently by Sarah Gadon, has inherited an apartment from a father she never knew. Her needy and conniving mom, Rosanna Arquette in a wonderful whacked out turn, wants to sell but Tyler runs away to live in the place to get to know her dad.

The father shows up as a ghost, played by Raoul Max Trujillo with warm gravitas. In an effort to know more Tyler disguises herself a boy to get into exclusive men’s club. There she falls in love with a gay waiter, the charming Dimitris Kitsos.

You never know which way Octavio is Dead is heading, never meandering, it always remains emotionally satisfying. As Tyler tries to figure out life without her mom, she explores her own growing sexuality and her connection to her father.

Director Lee is not afraid to take risks with gender and sexual expression including inter-generational love. At times you find you hold your breath as you wait for a scene to play out. And even though you wonder why no one figures out Tyler’s disguise, the story itself intrigues you.

Octavio is Dead screens as part of the 2018 Vancouver Queer Film Festival on Friday, 10 August 2018 at 7:00 pm at the Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas. Visit queerfilmfestival.ca for tickets and information.

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