This debut feature film from Daniel Monks and Stevie Cruz Martin is one of the most provocative stories that tackles gender identity and presents its own very different sci-fi take on this issue that is both innovative and intriguing.
Disabled teenager Olly (Monks)is getting increasingly unhappy that whilst his schoolmates are all enjoying dating and the first throes of young love, he is facing yet another operation to help improve his walking which will mean another lengthy hospital stay. Olly is also always at odds with his mother Jacqui (Caroline Brazier) who seems so wrapped in her work and her latest boyfriend, that Olly is often just an afterthought.
He decides that the answer to his prayers may lie in a new experimental procedure and have a total body swap, but shocks everybody by requesting that he gets one of a young woman though.
Olivia, as he now decides to call himself, is very pretty and is everything that Olly had dreamed of being. Now both popular with both boys and girls, however, Olivia/Olly soon finds out that life is not always like you imagine it is. Along with the body change, he/she experiences a whole personality change too, and sadly not for the better.
Now Olly/Olivia also feels that it’s time for her to fess up that he had always been in love with his best friend Luke (Scott Lee) and is obviously now hoping that now he is a woman, Luke may finally feel the same about him.
It feels like Monk, also disabled, must have written this story of a confused closeted gay kid based partly on his own experiences as there is such an authenticity to it. Olly’s cry for help was not so much about wanting to transition to a female to find his/her real gender identity but as means to escape his own body and finally have the ability to be loved. It’s a theme that anyone who has ever struggled with their own body and their sexuality will be able to relate too.
Director Cruz-Martin took an inspired decision to show Olivia (Jaime Peasley) as everyone saw her, but also show her/him on screen still as Olly when viewed through Olly’s eyes. It takes a little adjusting too at first, but when it settles down works very well.
Pulse is a mature approach to a coming-of-age story and whilst it is by no means perfect it has an energy and an optimism that is not only very attractive but has you willing it to succeed.
So far this homegrown Australian film has only been screened in Film Festivals Down Under BUT it deserves a much wider audience which we hope it will reach in 2018.