Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts’

Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts’

Before watching director Nick Zeig-Owens’ Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts, I was actually listening to a podcast about country music. To the uninitiated, Trixie Mattel is Brian Firkus’ stage name. She calls herself a folk musician, and an impersonator of a country music star, Dolly Parton. Mattel’s folk and country angle shows the cultural pivoting to those genres.

This documentary about Trixie Mattel is somewhat about that. But it’s also about issues that have a connection to folk and country music and the people who perform them. It touches on the vices and the cycles of abuse that she encountered as a young LGBT person in Wisconsin. Those difficult experiences have an effect on her as her drag career progresses.

The movie then shows Mattel reliving her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, a contest show she eventually wins. She’s also riding that successful wave with a TV show and European concert tour. As hectic enough as that is, she also must deal with the co-host of her TV show, Katya Zamalodchikova (Brian McCook), who has mental health issues.

That’s a lot of threads for a 90 minute film, although of course there’s something in me that’s asking for more here, as a fan of both Mattel and Zamolodchikova. But the camera is present during Zamolodchikova’s breakdown and its effects. The most important thing about this is that it handles her mental health issues in a brutally honest but respectful way.

This doc shows the perspective of juggling friendships and pursuing a volatile career path. It’s also a great showcase of Mattel as a musician, making mistakes during trying times while also being perfect during trying times. What’s also thrilling about this is watching a human being with regular emotional baggage successful execute a concept and becoming a true artist.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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