Wolfe announced this past week that award-winning Canadian filmmaker Eisha Marjara’s first foray into feature-length narrative films, Venus, will be making its domestic DVD debut on Sept. 11.
Sid (Debargo Sanyal — Pottersville, The Magic of Belle Isle, etc.), a Montreal native, notices one day that he is being stalked by a teenage kid named Ralph (Jamie Mayers — as Seth in the Game On TV series). Meanwhile, his mother, Mamaji (Zena Darawalla) — a very traditional Punjabi mom — sees her son as having something of an expiration date … a thirtysomething and not yet married (all the prime Punjabi women will certainly be taken).
This mix is the story that unfolds in Marjara’s Venus, and it takes the superb acting abilities of all three to walk a delicate line between drama and comedy, and at the same time avoid the narrative pitfalls of being stereotypical and farce.
When in high school Sid had a fling, it wasn’t your typical boy meets girl, boy beds girl, but boy meets girl … to meet the girl’s smoking hot brothering. Nature took care of the rest, which brings us to the 14 year-old teen who has been following Sid around. Ralph is his son! Oops!!
The reason Sid isn’t yearning for a Punjabi bride is that he has made a major decision in his life, he’s transgender and has decided to make the transition, which will be news to his parents.
You can see how this little development could easily take the entire film off the tracks in the first act, but both Sanyal and Mayers — as reluctant father (mother to be) and inquisitive son — nail the personas that writer Eisha Marjara has crafted for them.
Things are not going that well at home for Ralph, as his mother, Kirsten (Amber Goldfarb) and his new stepfather have created something of a riff between mother and son. This is the motivation behind his sudden interest in who his biological father is.
And now the good part … the coming out to Mamaji and the introduction of her grandson. If you enjoyed director Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick, you witnessed the hell that Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) went through when he announced that he was in love with Emily (Zoe Kazan) and was not at all interested in an arranged marriage. His family disowned him!
The mood shifts back and forth between comedy and drama at the speed of light. It is only the deft performance of Zena Darawalla as Mamaji, who is heartbroken that her son is not going to be her son any longer, but is also unsure of what kind of a grandson this teenager might be. It’s a lot to throw at mother all at once.
Filmmaker Eisha Marjara makes all of these diverse forces (elements) work so marvelously well in the film tapestry that emerges. Venus is ultimately a heartfelt tale of love, acceptance and family, even if traditions have to be tossed out the window!