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Adapted from a short film of the same name, Femme depicts the theft and reclaiming of identity through the eyes of drag performer, Jules (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). Debut feature film writers and directors, Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping manage to weave together a complex thriller that maintains a state of suspense from start to finish, despite Jules’ apparent thirst for revenge.


After a drag performer becomes the victim of a homophobic assault, they set out on a suspenseful mission for revenge that becomes more and more complicated by the scene.


Stewart-Jarrett provides a layered performance as Jules, a popular drag artist known by the pseudonym, Aphrodite. After headlining a nightclub show to an adoring fanbase, Jules is brought crashing down to Earth when they become the victim of a homophobic attack at the hands of Preston (George Mackay). Struggling to come to terms with the abuse and what it means for their identity, Jules puts Aphrodite on ice and withdraws from best friends Alicia (Asha Reid) and Toby (John McCrea), the latter of whom harbours unrequited feelings for our main character.


During a visit to a gay sauna, Jules overhears a commotion from the other side of the room, only to come face-to-face with none other than his attacker, Preston. Unable to recognise the commonality between Jules and Aphrodite, Preston orders them back to his apartment, sending us tumbling down a rabbit hole of sexual tension, suspenseful torment, and the nail-biting promise of revenge to come. Yet, with each passing scene, we wonder more and more whether that revenge will have its chance to come up for air.

The theme of attack followed by revenge has long been played out on the big screen, making it all the more important for Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping to bring something more thought-provoking to the table. Adapting their BAFTA-nominated short story of the same name into a feature-length film, they achieved just that and more.

The suspense in Femme comes from the questions raised between the scenes. Will Jules take their revenge on Preston? Do they even want revenge? Has this story developed into something far more complicated?


While Jules is the clear victim of the story after such a brutal on-screen, homophobic attack, the more layers that Mackay peels back on Preston’s character, the more we start to view him as a victim of sorts too. After all, a character can simultaneously be a villain and a victim, as Preston struggles to come to terms with his own sexuality amidst a social circle he clearly fears would shun him. In the end, we are left with an uneasy race against time between Preston’s character development and his deserved penance.

Femme does a masterful job of forcing the viewer to question issues far beyond the characters depicted on screen, shining a light on how we as a society breed homophobia long before violent acts are carried out. Preston is able to completely derail Jules’ life and identity, all without even recognising them shortly after, showing the chilling contrast in the impact of his actions between the two characters. Until the very final scene, we are left wondering whether Jules’ original mission for revenge has morphed into a genuine connection with his attacker, and in that lies the thrill of the film.


Rating Femme


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