19 May 2014 | TidalBasinTavern
An excellent and original thriller
I was initially not optimistic about this thriller. The unappealing cover picture plus the IMDb synopsis and mixed reviews lead me to be rather dubious about watching it. Also I'd seen the superficially similar and awful Mascara (1987) which covers some of the same ground, namely, a Belgian location, corrupt police, serial killers targeting trans prostitutes, and opera. I'm very glad I did watch Mauvais Genre though; this is an excellent and original thriller.
The lead character in the film is Bo (played by Robinson Stevenin) who comes from a haute bourgeoisie Belgian family and whose father is a famous and politically well connected doctor. The twenty year old Bo is now living in reduced circumstances in a seedy part of Brussels and working in a cabaret after becoming estranged from her Father and her mother having committed suicide. Most of her friends now are prostitutes (though note that the IMDb synopsis is incorrect in saying Bo is a prostitute; she isn't).
The film opens with Bo's father being arrested for molestation and it's also at that point we learn that Bo is trans. The investigation of Bo's father forms a tightly contained subplot which adds depth to the main serial killer story.
The police's treatment of Bo and her friends range from the over familiar and intimidating to violence and worse. The senior policeman on the case, Huysmans played by Richard Bohringer, is excellently sinister. You never really know what his angle on all this is until the very end. He is in a power struggle with another senior policeman, Pryzuski (Stéphane de Groot). It's good cop bad cop or is it really bad cop bad cop? It's made clear throughout the film how socially privileged Bo was and to some extent still is. She regularly intellectually outmanoeuvres the police. Huysman is constantly going on about how incredibly intelligent Bo is and at one point Huyman actually says to Bo "You could be a famous doctor, lawyer or prosecutor. Society needs you." However, Bo still has charm, good looks, and 'Bon Chic Bon Genre' style.
At heart Mauvais Genre is a fairly traditional thriller and all the better for it. There are lots of maguffins and red herrings.
As the film progresses Bo starts a relationship with her abusive neighbour Johnny. Robinson Stevenin didn't really manage to convince me in his portrayal that Bo was falling obsessively in love with a man who treats her very badly. That was on of the films few weak points. The other was that Bo really can't walk in heels and keeps falling over throughout the film. This gets really distracting after a while. The idea that someone as together as Bo wouldn't be able to walk in heels seems unlikely. It seems to be a crude cinematic device to show that "Bo is not a 'real' woman" and really belongs in Carry On Films or the Dick Emery show.
Rather amusingly if you believe this film and Mascara everyone in Belgium seems to like opera and senior policemen have offices which look like art galleries and museums.
Overall this is a very enjoyable film. In particular if you like LGBT cinema then this is an absolutely must see. I watch a lot of LGBT cinema and can't think of another film with such a strong trans character as a lead.