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"Predestination": Time­Travel Plays Hell on Gender Issues 

Wednesday, Jan 7 2015
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A largely faithful adaptation of a 1958 Robert A. Heinlein short story, Michael and Peter Spierig's Predestination is a time-travel yarn that worked fine as a 13-page read, but as a film the time-bendy elements come across as sub-Primer at best. In the 1970s, a man (Sarah Snook, the true star of the film) stops into a dive for a drink. He decides to tell the bartender (top-billed Ethan Hawke) his life story, beginning with, "When I was a little girl..." What a twist! Though there are some implausible sci-fi aspects to the representation, and the waters are muddied somewhat by transgender references, Predestination is probably as close to a sympathetic portrayal of intersexuality as can be expected from the crypto-fascist Heinlein. It's notably just a function of the plot, and pains are taken to ensure that Snook's character becoming male is mostly out of his control, since nothing is more inexcusable than deviation by choice, particularly in Heinlein's world. That said, Predestination does develop Snook's character as an honest-to-goodness character and not just a story cog, though there are a few tone-deaf moments that bear the mark of cisgender men behind the camera — as does the presence of oversized GENTLEMEN and LADIES restroom signs behind Hawke's bar. We get it, guys.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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