The seventeen minute Australian movie MRS. McCUTCHEON (released in 2017) is a lovely little visual story. Directed by John Sheedy and filmed in bright colors reminiscent of many 1960s cinema productions, the screenplay shows some slices of life for a ten-year-old boy (Alec Golinger) who feels most natural and comfortable wearing a dress. He insists on being called Mrs. McCutcheon instead of his birth name Tom. We viewers eventually learn that he identifies as a she, expressing to her single mother Jenny (Nadine Garner) a sense that she was born in the wrong kind of body. Jenny enrolls the child in a third school within a single year, where a super perky teacher, Mrs. Clutterbuck (Virginia Gay), does her theatrical best to make Mrs. McCutcheon feel welcome in class.
A part white, part Aboriginal boy named Trevor (Wesley Patten) immediately befriends the trans protagonist, protecting her against intolerant peers, particularly from a group of three boys who proceed to steadily bully Mrs. McCutcheon. Trevor is a scrappy and talented athlete who loves his new classmate for who and how she is. He voices disappointment when his new friend is forced back into wearing boy’s clothes while at school.
The oppressive norm of compulsory conformity to birth-based binary gender expression and identity is upheld by Principal Parncut (Neil Pigot), a staid and constipated looking caricature of a man. He and the teacher Mrs. Clutterbuck are just two of several ways comic relief balance out the serious subject matter of the film. However, even uptight Mr. Parncut is overpowered by the positive, hopeful message at the very end, the final setting a balloon-filled dance in the school gym. The movie often has a dream-like quality to it, particularly this very last scene. Hence, idealism works well here, coupled with the narrative’s premise that diversity in every sense is a basic aspect of reality to be embraced for the good of humanity (however high a striving that may be in such a fear-filled world).
It is Trevor who so wisely, poignantly expresses the main point of the film in few words and actions. (Hint: It has to do with skin.) Wesley Patten’s acting hits the mark for sincerity and effectiveness. He should go places in his career, if he chooses to remain an actor, as the equally talented Grolinger should also succeed.
This short film was exactly what I needed to watch at the end of a work week peppered with ongoing news of intolerance around the country and the world. As long as clever, creative projects like MRS. McCUTCHEON continue to be made and released for the public (I viewed this for free via my basic Cable plan), there is hope that the world will perhaps eventually become a better place for everyone.