Thursday, April 2, 2015

HRWFF 2015 Film Review - Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story

Christopher Beck retired from the United States Navy in 2011 after 20 years of service. He had served as a Navy SEAL all over the world. His first major action being the first gulf war followed by every hot spot including Bosnia, Serbia and Afghanistan plus training maneuvers from Australia to the Philippines. Chris was there for the fall of Saddam Hussein even posing for pictures sitting on the throne in the Presidential palace. However Beck is now on the biggest and toughest mission attempting to live openly as a transgendered person. Beck is doing so to finally be comfortable, projecting outwardly the person she feels inside.

The film starts out with Beck on the road. Kristin since a June 2013 CNN interview on Anderson received many requests to speak to groups and at conferences emerging quickly as a role model for transgendered people. Beck does not have a real home spending a large amount of time on the road with her dog Bo by her side. Next Kristin returns to her families small town Wellsville New York home. Kristin family is for the most part very accepting of the change. Her father who still refers to Kristin as a he is struggling with the 9 months old change but will not consider turning his back on his child. His older brother and younger sister are both positive as are many townspeople who saw Christopher as a hero when he went out on his tours representing Wellsville and still have a friendly smile, bit of advice or hug for Kristin when she is in town. The largest exception is Kristin's mom who see's this as a temporary phase doesn't understand and commented why could he just be normal and be gay.  The other painful part is Kristin estrangement from his two boys who do not want to speak to or see their father at all.

The Directors Mark Herzog and Sandrine Orabona mix in archival footage going back to Chris' Seal training during BUD/S School. They narrative is peppered with family photos of Chris from early childhood up through high school and into his SEAL career. The story captures the negative reaction as well mainly through messages left on Kristin's web site. Overall the reaction to Kristin change is 50/50.  Some colleagues are open and friendly other don't understand but are civil while some are hostile and venomous from a safe perch behind their keyboard.

Now that Kristin is living outwardly as she feels on the inside former SEAL teammates remark that they could always see that there was a weight on Chris that they could not place. He took crazy chances in the field with complete abandonment as if he did not care what might happen to him. He charged into situations locked and loaded without a normal healthy sense of fear. He went on 14 tours well over the mandatory amount. When Kristin reflects she comments that the singular act of being a SEAL is what kept her going until the courage rose to be the person that she was meant to be.

The film does avoid the technical details of the transition. There is no discussion of what is actually involved, the steps and their order. No discussion of any past, present or future planned surgeries.  In one There RV Kristin goes through a bag with a bunch of pills that she takes for various injuries suffered during her time as a SEAL but there is no mention of any prescriptions, hormones, or therapies needed as part of the transition.

Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story is the story about a person that has a history of tacking life head on. Someone who is looking for that next mission and is on one that is more challenging that BUD/S school's or any of the harrowing situation faced during all those SEAL deployments. The mission is to live openly as a transgendered person and battle for all especially for young people. The next generation who are searching for their identities.

*** Out of Four.

Lady Valor; The Kristin Beck Story | Mark Herzog and Sandrine Orabona | U.S.A.  2015 | 86 Minutes.

Tags: Navy SEAL, Transgendered, Military, Motivational Speaker, Iraq, Afghanistan, Family, Acceptance, Rejection, Him/Her, Divorce.

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