Southern Comfort

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Robert Eads lives in a rural part of Georgia, where pick-up trucks and good old boys are staples of the local lifestyle. But while Eads sports a thick goatee, denim jeans, and a cowboy hat, he isn’t like most of the others around him. The fifty-two year old Eads was born a female and always felt trapped inside that female form, so he had some work done and started to live as a man, known as Robert Eads. But this was not a snap decision on his part, as he married a man and even raised two sons, before taking on the lifestyle of a man. The transition was hard on his family, as his parents tell people Robert is their nephew and that their daughter is estranged, so that people won’t think poorly of their child. Even so, it was a choice that had to be made, as Robert is now happy and satisfied with his life, including the presence of his grandchild. He gets visits from his family often, but spends most of his time with his friends, most of whom also have lived as women, but took the plunge to live as men. His life even includes some romance, as he met the lively Lola, who happens to be a man living as a woman. Eads’ life is not all good however, as he has been diagnosed with cancer and was told this would be his final year of life. As the passion blooms however, it proves that love can conquer all boundaries, no matter how unusual.

This is one of the most unconventional love stories I’ve seen, but it comes off as natural and genuine as you can imagine. The two people involved might come from unusual circumstances, but it still two people who have fallen in love, which ensures the emotion remains true. But while the romance plays a large part in Southern Comfort, the main focus is on Eads, as his complex story is told throughout. I know some people will disagree with the choices made by those featured in Southern Comfort, but when you listen to those involved, you can’t help but see how much better their lives have become. And thanks to director Kate Davis, the subjects are never exploited for shock value and in truth, quite the opposite is true. She is able to mine the emotion and humanity from the story, without resorting to the Jerry Springer kind of tactics, which paints a warm, natural overall experience. The tone is serious when it needs to be and then lightens at times, especially when Eads tells some humorous anecdotes. The amount of life in Eads is stunning, even as he faces his final days, he remains upbeat and personable. I found this to be an engaging, often touching picture, one that shows how important being yourself is. As such, I more than recommend Southern Comfort to those interested.

Video: How does it look?

Southern Comfort is presented in full frame, as intended. I assume this was shot on digital video, as it looks as if that were the case. As expected, the format produces some flaws, such as inconsistent light, but in a documentary feature like this, you can’t expect perfect lighting and other photographic bliss. The colors look good and flesh tones are accurate, while the contrast is acceptable, if a little inconsistent at times. But considering the nature of the material and the equipment used, this looks as good as we could ask.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio here is rather basic, as the film is more about dialogue than music or brash sound effects. So if you’ve seen a documentary before, you should know what to expect, a track that is clean and effective, but unmemorable. Then again, we wouldn’t want a dynamic track in this case, as it would distract from the material too much. We need to focus on the people and their dialogue, not the surround channels. The dialogue is smooth and always clear here, so no vocals wind up muffled or drowned out by other elements. All in all, a solid soundtrack and in the case of Southern Comfort, that’s all need.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes some deleted scenes, a selection of cast interviews, talent files, and a filmmaker statement from Kate Davis.

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