Chaz Bono's 'Becoming Chaz': What Critics Say

7:04 PM PST 05/09/2011 by THR staff
Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival

The documentary, about how Cher's daughter transitioned from Chastity Bono into a male, debuts Tuesday night on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

Chaz Bono's transformation from female to male is chronicled in Becoming Chaz, a documentary airing Tuesday night on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

Bono's mom, Cher, as well as his girlfriend, Jennifer Elia, and various other relatives appear in the movie, which had its premiere in January at Sundance, where it had a resoundingly positive reaction.

Indeed, several critics have given it favorable reviews.

The Hollywood Reporter's Duane Byrge writes that "Becoming Chaz is a touching story of bravery as Chaz Bono struggles to become himself. The production team layered the story with empathy, humor and dignity."

Byrge adds that filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato tell Bono's story with "finesse, compassion and wit" and says the film "will hit nerves and touch hearts with Oprah's audience."

The Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara writes that the doc is honest and thought-provoking.

"Miraculously, Becoming Chaz doesn't go much for triumph, at least not in the theatrical sense," she writes. "Instead, the film presents life as ongoing and complicated, as it actually is, for the transgendered and non-transgendered alike. Becoming a man doesn't solve all of Chaz's problems, just his biggest one."

David Wiegard of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Becoming Chaz is one of the best projects to date about what it's like to be transgender.

"Several recent documentaries have tried to help the rest of the world understand the realities of being transgender, but, ironically, one of the better efforts does it well in spite of the fact that it focuses on the offspring of one of the most famous couples in pop culture," he writes.

The New York Times' Cintra Wilson adds that the film can be tough to watch.

"The operation is so graphic, and such a commitment — physically, emotionally and financially — that as a wincing viewer you come away with a palpable understanding of how unendurably he must be suffering in his body to want to have his own sex characteristics amputated," Wilson writes.

The Washington Post's Hank Stuever agrees.

"The film encourages inquiry and open-mindedness; it tenderly attempts to explore a deep discomfort in both its subject and its potential viewers; and it is at times as difficult to look away from as it is to watch," he writes.

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