Lonely at the top

"We´re going to exaggerate shamelessly." This sentence is spoken over black film by Lucy McEvil, transvestite, singer and passionate resident of Vienna, at the beginning of Wolfgang Muhr´s short portrait. Hyperbole is a wholly suitable leitmotif for a film in which an artist is shown portraying characters of the opposite sex, as the representation´s exaggeration, ironic refraction and displacement is what differentiates the act of dressing in drag from mere imitation of a certain sex.
Muhr employs two worlds of images for his portrait: the singer´s home, a small house in a suburban yard in Vienna, and footage of performances. Images of the home and yard, made with a love of detail, are accompanied by Lucy´s descriptions of how her private refuge works: how the boiler and tub are used, how mice are caught, the effect produced by weeding. This is punctuated by closeups of the singer at work, staged scenes of her gender-bending act: makeup, lipstick and eye shadow are demonstrated and celebrated, rather than made to appear natural by lighting and the camera.
The matter-of-factness of McEvil´s descriptions of a lifestyle which is on one the hand excessive ("I love hard liquor") and on the other secluded ("when I´m private, I´m extremely private"), contrasts with the colorful opulence of the house, yard and stage show. However the film never lapses into trite stylization of the romantic subject. On the contrary, the viewer is given an opportunity to fully comprehend the ironic refraction of McEvil´s act in film.

(Andrea B. Braidt)

Translation: Steve Wilder

Orig. Title
Lonely at the top
Year
2006
Country
Austria
Duration
9 min 42 sec
Category
Documentary
Orig. Language
german
Credits
Director
Wolfgang Rupert Muhr
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264)
Festivals (Selection)
2007
Wien - VIS Vienna Independent Shorts
Toronto - Inside Out / Lesbian & Gay Film and Video Festival
Stolac (BIH) - Artfestival
Kassel - Dokumentarfilm- & Videofest
Hamburg - Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage Querfeld
Kingston - Reelout queer film and video festival
2008
London - Transgender Film Festival