First Advisor

Craig Epplin

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in World Languages & Literatures: Spanish and University Honors


World Languages and Literatures


Film criticism, Sexual minorities in motion pictures, Lucía Puenzo. Niño pez -- Criticism and interpretation, Lucía Puenzo. XXY -- Criticism and interpretation




Queer cinema exists as a form of subversive storytelling, where ambiguity is utilized to tell non-normative narratives. Mainstream film criticism, however, finds itself ill-equipped to address the complexities of queer films. Film criticism seeks clarity in films that are intentionally ambiguous, and in doing so runs the risk of misrepresenting the film and its topics. Through the use of a case study, queer cinema is evaluated as a tool for developing mainstream criticism. XXY (2007) and El niño pez (2009), written and directed by Argentine filmmaker Lucía Puenzo, tell coming-of-age stories of queer youth. Their stories and narrative techniques can be a useful example of how film criticism could approach queer cinema. The lack of sufficient nuance in mainstream film criticism manifests in the assignment of pronouns and labelling of sexuality, as well as in misguided analysis of themes and ambiguous scenes. Queer cinema’s deviation from heteronormative, homonormative, and binary frameworks serves as an example of how mainstream film criticism could also approach queer narratives. The findings of this case study are discussed specific to their context, as well as in a transnational dialogue on how changes to film criticism could benefit all film genres. Film criticism should be encouraged to approach films uniquely, with the same level of nuance that queer films utilize. Anticipating the inclusion of more diverse narratives in mainstream movies in the future, this study considers the potential of flexible, generous, and ever-evolving film criticism.


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