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The Aggressives

  • Film

Time Out says

As if the terms trannyfag, butch bottom and cub chaser were not mystifying enough, now first-time documentarian Daniel Peddle offers a whole new LGBT vocabulary word: aggressive. At least its definition is simple to grasp: It basically means butch lesbian, only more street and more studied—and not white. And, just as with butch or femme or just about any other queer identity, the label means something a little different for each individual who claims it. We meet six women in The Aggressives, including Kisha, a beautiful Latina model who is more androgynous than manly; Rjai, a way-masculine stud with an incredibly accepting mom; and Octavia, a troubled teen and mother who winds up in prison for dealing drugs.

Peddle's done an excellent job of getting his subjects to open up on everything from coming out to favorite sexual practices. All of the women are fascinating in different ways—and that's very lucky for the director, because The Aggressives can only count on its subjects. It's got the aesthetic quality of a public-access show, and the editing is often confusing. Perhaps most disappointing is that the film lacks a structure or voice to link the various stories, as a wise and jaded Dorian Corey did for Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burning. The Aggressives may not be as polished and artistic as that 1990 movie, but both have a trove of lovable, confounding and unforgettable subjects.—Beth Greenfield

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