20 Centimeters

| November 17, 2006

Twenty centimeters is approximately 7.9 inches, and that is the length of Marieta’s penis. Her penis is what Marieta feels keeps her from being a whole woman. 20 Centimeters is about a male to female transgendered person and narcoleptic who stops at nothing to change her sex so that it compliments the female identity with which she identifies herself.
Tomas (Marieta’s roommate and friend) has a cello teacher who says to Marieta that the cello is a man with a woman’s body. Marieta is a woman with the genitals of male. Marieta wants to rid herself of her “20 centimeters.” However, in the struggle to raise money to fund the operation, she finds she may be denying herself by having surgery–perhaps losing the person she really is, dick or no dick.
Marieta is passionate about having her surgery to become a real woman, and she comes to find that she is still a whole woman in spirit regardless of her 20 centimeters. But Marieta is a strong and diligent individual who lets nothing and no one compromise her dream of having sex re-assignment surgery.
Many musical interludes occur during Marieta unexpected narcoleptic naps. In addition to providing entertainment value, these song and dance numbers move the story along and provide necessary transition between scenes. Some songs are sung in English; others, in French and Spanish, pop-culture references that allow to the director to pay homage to the bygone era of classic Hollywood musicals.
Because Marieta is, like the other characters in the film, a social outsider, the film may not be accessible to a wide audience, but that is not its purpose. Stories like 20 Centimeters are unique and not often told. Though the film contains musical interludes that are influenced by the director’s love of stars like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Judy Garland, the story itself is unconventional and a twist on what has come out Hollywood studios.
A biker and fruit stocker becomes a lover of Marieta’s. He is gorgeously handsome, and it is not only Marieta who notices this. Others in the city are jealous of the short and sexually charged affair the two have, but this never becomes a problem. The fruit stocker, surprisingly to Marieta, loves her cock and is eager to receive during intercourse. This comforts Marieta. It is clear in the few heated erotic sex scenes between the two that the fruit stocker is not at all turned off by Marieta appearing to be a woman and being equipped with “20 centimeters” of dick.
Marieta must confront the heterosexist and discriminating world of the workplace, because she is not easily able to change her legal identity, and she appears most like a female. Regardless of this, Marieta uses her charm to score herself a janitorial position by seducing the employment agent she consults.
20 Centimeters provides for its audience a world less known by middle-class white people in the U.S. and portrays it without shame but with humor and delight. This is a world where everyone’s sexual identity seems unidentifiable. One couldn’t feel more sexually empowered about his or her life or sexuality after seeing this film. 20 Centimeters is not only a tribute to the music and performers by which it was influenced, but is an affirmation of sexuality, identity, and what it feels like to be queer. Marieta is the vehicle for so much of which this film means to the gender queer community. She does her minority great justice.
More stories like Marieta’s should be told more often because as much as the cultures of the world would deny their gender queer population, that doesn’t change the fact that we do exist, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered, and Intersex individuals. This story is a brave one to produce, but necessary.

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