What happens when your identical twin brother whom you’ve spent all your waking hours for twenty years, becomes your sister? Red without Blue is a documentary about just that. Mark and Alex were inseparable all through their childhood and teenage years, were perfect children together, were rebellious teenagers together and even attempted suicide jointly. The title refers to the fact that each of the twins were dressed in these colours, to distinguish between the two. This documentary packs in so much, it’s hard to believe all this could happen in one family.
Mark and Alex Farley grew up like the typically All-American, Brady bunch family. Their mother describes them as “perfect children” and life was idyllic. Then things began to change for the family. When they were in their early teens their parents divorced, and the brothers’ lives began to go downhill. The twins came out as gay, and tried to kill themselves. After the suicide attempt, they had to be separated and sent to separate boarding schools.
The film is about Alex becoming Clare, and how things changed for the brothers, and their mother. When Alex made it known that he was transitioning, the bond between the twins was severely shaken. Mark viewed Alex’s transition as a rejection of who he is, since in his mind he and Alex were the same. Their mother Jennifer, forbid Clare from visiting the family home, and the two had no contact for eight months. Even after contact was re-established, she prevented Clare from making her transition public.
Shot over a period of three years, the film is a lovely, candid and touching narrative of a family that is first torn apart by what seems a very harsh reality, and is then brought back when they realise that the love that binds them is far more important than anything else. It also tells the story of Alex’s transition to becoming Clare, his struggle with the thought of bottom surgery, and how he proceeds with it. My favourite part of the entire movie is Mark’s experience- his feeling of abandonment at losing his brother, Clare insisting that she is really still the same person, and how Mark finally accepts her.
Interestingly, their mother lives with a woman, but refuses to refer to herself as a lesbian. It is a movie about the struggles of a transgender person and her family, but also about that indescribable bond that twins share- something only a twin will understand.
I’m not sure where you can get the movie, but it’s made the rounds of film festivals around the world. I watched it this Sunday on NDTV 24X7, so keep an eye out, there’s a chance they might repeat it.