Runs in the Family (2023)

Runs in the Family (2023)

Father and son bond through drag in this fun South African road trip

7.3

Movie

South Africa, Swaziland
English
Adventure, Comedy, Drama
2023
IAN GABRIEL
Ace Bhatti, Gabe Gabriel, Khadija Heeger
107 min

TLDR

Now… if only they knew how to handle Monica’s character better.

What it's about

After injury strikes his drag partner and best friend Ollie, trans man River goes on a road trip with his reformed grifter dad Varun to pick up his estranged mother from rehab, hoping to make it back home on time for the drag competition that could win him his gender-affirming surgery.

The take

There are a plethora of father-son road trips in film, but rarely portrayed on the path are fathers with their trans sons. That is because most queer stories often focus on the romance, and if not the romance, the coming out process. Runs in the Family does things differently – it’s the connection between trans drag performer River and his father Varun that lovingly stays the same. The easy, comforting dynamic between them is something that needed to be on screen, and it’s what makes the movie shine. While the film still showcases the extra hurdles society sets in front of them, and the way other people let them down because of discrimination, this father-son duo is the one thing they can depend upon. Runs in the Family is by no means perfect, but their natural father-son dynamic is something everyone needs to see.

What stands out

There are some parts that falter in Runs in the Family, but the aspect that makes the film work is the father-son relationship between River and Varun. As the father is usually the first male person a child meets, the father is his first model of masculinity, and it’s really affirming if they accept you as you are. What’s refreshing about this road trip film is that there’s no question as to whether or not this father-son connection would break after coming out. In fact, this connection is consistent, steady, and loving. It’s the one thing that doesn’t cause conflict. Runs in the Family portrays this relationship with a groundedness that naturally stems from the father-son collaboration between Ian and Gabe Gabriels, who serve as director and writer for the film.

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