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A Deal With the Universe

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

This doc following its transgender director's attempts to conceive is a film of little moments with a big heart.

You won’t regret spending an hour and a half with the couple at the centre of this scratchily homemade-feeling but refreshingly candid and warm doc. It’s the work of transgender director Jason Barker, a filmmaker with a sideline in stand-up comedy, and his partner Tracey. They have spent 15 years recording their efforts to have a baby together – enduring breast cancer scares and endless gruelling courses of IVF along the way.

If paring all that footage down must have been akin to sorting through the world’s biggest family photo album, what emerges isn’t just the sun-kissed Insta-ready moments. Instead, we get a warts-and-all story of a loving relationship in flux. It’s also an unvarnished but oddly cheerful meditation on the challenges of transgender identity, set against a very English backdrop of London Fields tower blocks, caravanning holidays, trips to the seaside and the odd rogue pigeon. It’s a film of little moments and big heart.

The secret sauce, though, is Barker’s own stand-up routines, recorded by Tracey in the audience. From reflecting on the foibles of cis men in changing rooms (‘Have you ever seen a woman use a hairdryer on her feet?’) to his own menstrual cycle confessions (‘There’s this very small window in the month where I really, really, really fucking fancy Gordon Ramsay’), they’re a perception-busting and often very funny complement to a film set on draining the dread from life’s scarier corners. 

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 12 April 2019
  • Duration:90 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Jason Barker
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