The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

Movies, Documentary
4 out of 5 stars
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

He wasn't always Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. The future rabble-rouser began life as Neil Andrew Megson in Manchester, England. His childhood was the definition of unhappy: An outsider and frequent target of bullies, Neil eventually found his niche---with the help of countercultural icons William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin---as a transgressive performance artist. He was prosecuted for his projects (heavy on Nazi and occult-inspired imagery) with the confrontational COUM collective and cofounded the provocative industrial-electronic bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV.

This rough-and-tumble past is touched on in Marie Losier's enthralling experimental documentary---gorgeously shot with a handheld Bolex 16mm camera and asynchronous sound. But the film is mostly concerned with P-Orridge's more recent exploits as a self-described "pandrogyne" who, with his second wife, Lady Jaye, has challenged the accepted boundaries of gender identity through a series of sexual-reassignment surgeries. The subject matter will undoubtedly put off many, though it would be a shame if Losier's tender portrait failed to find an audience. At heart, this is less of a loogie in the face of social norms and more of a relatable, tragic love story; there's a reason Lady Jaye comes off as the couple's less-defined phantom half, and it's devastating when the film reveals why. Losier has made a quietly revolutionary work that treats a pair of people on the fringes with the decency all humans deserve.

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

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By: Keith Uhlich

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