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Trace Lysette Makes History as Trans Lead in Indie Film 'Monica' | Movie Review

TV & Film | Trans

Source: Zoetropolis

Actress, producer, and recording artist Trace Lysette makes history with her stellar performance in Indie Drama, 'Monica'.

This past year, Trace Lysette broke barriers for the movie 'Monica' as the first openly transgender actress headlining a film in competition at the Venice Film Festival, the oldest running film festival in the world. After the film’s initial screening at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, Lysette received an astounding 11-minute standing ovation for her performance.

Over the past years, Lysette has been building an understated yet historical acting career. After working in non-transgender roles, Lysette came out publicly as a transwoman after her breakout role as Shea on "Transparent" (2014 - 2019).

Additionally, she has made a couple of appearances in the groundbreaking series "Pose" (2018 - 2021) as Tess Wintour. From then on, Lysette made her major feature film debut in "Hustlers" (2019) acting alongside the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Lizzo, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu.

Source: BFI Flare

In the film, Lysette plays the titular character, Monica, a transwoman who must return home to care for her dying mother Eugenia, played by Patricia Clarkson. Monica is estranged from her mother who cuts her daughter off after coming out as transgender. However, now that Eugenia suffers from dementia, she no longer recognizes her daughter, leaving potential for a reconnection between them.

Throughout the film we get an intimate scope on Monica and her nuance. Lysette does phenomenal work giving life and presence to the isolated, introspective, and complicated character.

As the audience, you will exclusively focus on the intriguing character of Monica because of the gravity that she exudes. The up-close (1:1 aspect ratio) cinematography literally pushes the audience to witness every emotion the lead experiences as she confronts the family she was forced to leave behind many years ago.

Despite the quiet nature of the film, the synergy between Lysette and Clarkson is what elevates it to a palpable, cinematic experience. The emotional ride from tension and apprehension to realization and understanding between mother and daughter serves as the heart of 'Monica'.

At its core, the film focuses on family with themes of forgiveness, acceptance, and unconditional love. With both child and parent moving forward and amending their relationship, this film is the first of its kind to showcase such a familial experience with a transwoman as lead.

To put it simply 'Monica' is a human story. Do not expect any Hollywood-level exaggeration or embellishments. This film's primary purpose is to tell a down to Earth story with down-to-Earth characters. The reality of facing trauma from family simply because of your existence is a hard truth unfortunately shared by many queer and trans people across the world.

'Monica' conveys this experience with such plain honesty that it may be overlooked or underappreciated at first watch. Patience and an open mind will go a long way when viewing this film.

'Monica' is certainly the one to look out for (especially during awards season!).

The film was released on May 12, 2023, and is now available in theaters in over 50 cities. Find a location near you at

We are so excited to witness the growth of Trace Lysette’s career and look forward to what she does next!

Watch the Trailer Below:


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