Transgender Hitman Film Stirs Controversy in Toronto

SBS Films

Actress Michelle Rodriguez is defending her role as a hitman who undergoes forcible gender reassignment surgery, saying she took the role “to express frustration” over Hollywood’s lack of diversity.

After its premiere Wednesday at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the film’s plot, according to a Reuters report, “drew criticism from some in the transgender community, who said the medical procedure should not be used as a sensationalistic plot device. It was also called transphobic and exploitative by Twitter users.”

The film reportedly centers on hitman Frank Kitchen (Rodriguez), whose latest kill makes him the target of a deranged doctor (Sigourney Weaver). Kitchen wakes to find himself transitioned into a woman, and begins a mission to seek revenge on the doctor who changed him.

Rodriguez, perhaps best known for her starring roles in the widely popular Fast and Furious films, defended her new film on Wednesday in a lengthy Instagram post.

“In retrospect I’m I glad took the plunge, the industry seems to be running low on edgy creativity & ‘real take a chance’ controversy, sometimes it makes me want to scream, instead I did what I always do when I’m bored with the ‘status quo’, I shot crazy b movie Indy to express my frustration [sic],” Rodriguez wrote in defense of the film.

Calling it by its original title, Tomboy, Rodriguez laughed at the film’s producers and TIFF’ promoters she says insist on renaming (and rebranding) the film to (Re)Assignment.

Heheheh at TIFF promoting ‘TomBoy A Revengers Tale’ producers are convinced the new movie title should be re-assignment but I’ll stick to the title I signed on to shoot… ‘Tomboy’ [sic],” the actress wrote.

Still the criticism for the film has been harsh.

The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee called it as a “film made with such staggering idiocy that it deserves to be studied by future generations for just how and why it ever got made.”

Transgender activist Elizabeth Marie Rivera has called for a boycott of the film, and has taken to Instagram writing that it contains “a f*cked up and twisted ‘transgender’ trope that is being forced down our throat.”

“There’s a little controversy about our title, here at the festival,”director Walter Hill.said in an interview at the festival.

(Re)Assignment stars Sigourney WeaverMichelle Rodriguez and Caitlin Gerard.


Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @JeromeEHudson


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