Meaning and nuance is always lost in a translation, but it’s a shame that Anna Muylaert’s new film has been retitled Don’t Call Me Son for domestic release when its original Portuguese title translates as the more poetic There’s Only One Mother. Pierre (Naomi Nero) is a pansexual, gender-nonconforming teenager who learns that his financially struggling single mother Aracy (Daniela Nefussi) stole him at birth. He’s non-consensually reunited with his well-to-do biological mother Glória (also Nefussi) and macho father Matheus (Matheus Nachtergaele), the latter of whom gets angry that in addition to disliking football and bowling, Pierre prefers dresses to slacks, polo shirts, and other horrible boy clothes. While the microaggressions sting every time someone calls Pierre “dude” or “man,” when he actually speaks the (domestic) title words aloud, it’s not about his gender identity, but rather the arrogance of Glória and Matheus expecting him to bond with these people who uprooted him from his life. The same issues would exist even if Pierre didn’t look good in eyeliner, which sets Don’t Call Me Son apart from other recent “queer boy is reunited with disapproving father” movies like Viva — and also it’s refreshing that Pierre plays in a band, and is uninvolved in drag culture. Who knew that not all boys who defy gender expectations dream of lip-syncing Cher?
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