Interview: Actor Martín Piroyansky of 'XXY'
Mon, 18 Aug 2008 15:55:02
XXY is a rare gem of a film. It is sharply cut, meticulously polished, and completely one of a kind. The Argentine film tells the story of Alex, a 15-year-old with an unusual secret: she is both a boy and a girl. Amid the beautiful landscapes of coastal Uruguay, XXY weaves the lives of Alex’s family, the community, and a family visiting from Argentina into a captivating exploration into love, sexuality, and identity.
With emotional performances by Inés Efron as the fiery Alex, Ricardo Darín as her strong and loving father, and Martín Piroyansky as Alex’s starcrossed lover Álvaro, the film won the Critic’s Week grand prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
For more on this intensely unique film, we recently called Martín Piroyansky in Argentina and chatted about intersexuality, homosexuality, and all kinds of sexuality.
Martín, what drew you to this particular film?
I think it is a very brave movie, because in Argentina this kind of movie is very rare. There’s a lot of action and there’s something happening all the time, and I really like that. It’s more similar to [American] Cinema.
Why do you think the movie is brave, and what is the view of homosexuality in Argentina?
I think Argentina is very ambiguous; it’s okay to be gay, but not really. I don’t believe people when they say that they think it’s okay. People know that they have to be okay with it, but they aren’t really okay with it. Since I was a kid I [have] always had gay friends, but it’s not common for Argentina, for the whole country.
How did you explain the film to your friends when you got the part?
It was pretty funny. I was shooting the film and talking to a friend of mine about it, and he said, “Wait, you’re making a comedy right?” And I told him that it wasn’t a comedy, it was a serious movie. But he said, "But it’s about an intersexual girl, how could it be serious?" He was right. It could be like a comedy or it could be like the way it is.
Making jokes can be a way to deal with something that is difficult. How did you make the movie without making fun of the condition?
I always make jokes of difficult situations, and yes, it’s a defense. I watch the movie and I see this teenager with all his struggles and he is like a clown for me. All the people are mistreating him all the time, and he doesn’t do anything. He’s in love. And even the girl mistreats him. It’s kind of funny really. This guy falls in love with this girl that ends up being a guy.
“He is suffering. He loves her. He doesn’t mind if she’s a girl or a boy.”
But the film is really tragic love story. What do you think the movie says about love?
It has a dark message. The girl is a victim of what the village people say and that’s why she can’t really be in love with Álvaro. Because she believes that Álvaro is in love with her strange condition, but we know that he is really in love. He is suffering. He loves her. He doesn’t mind if she’s a girl or a boy. Then in the last scene where he says to her that he loves her. She says, “No. Do you like me or do you like to watch my thing?” He loves her and cries. For the first time a guy is in love with her, and she can’t see it.
Your character, Álvaro, is at the cusp of becoming a man. He’s a teenager and he’s learning about his own sexuality through the reflection of Alex. How does the movie challenge the typical view of what it means to be a man?
I don’t know if it’s about becoming a man, but it’s more about coming to accept our sexuality, whatever it is. The girl, in the search of herself, has to come to terms with the fact that her indecision has consequences. She has to decide whether she will become a boy.