Review: A Home for My Heart

Written and directed by Sankhajit Biswas, a transgender woman’s journey as she strives to normalise gender fluidity. A romantic at heart, who loves to be in love, Suvana Sudeb worries about what she’s putting her conservative family through. Intimate moments and candid conversations reveal her vulnerability and strength as she goes through gender affirmation surgery.

One of the great ways to explore the experience of transgender people is to look at their life as a whole, not just themselves but their friends and family. Then you can see the sincere struggle that they’re faced with in order to live as their authentic selves, particularly when they’re coming from a family with such traditional values, in a conservative country. That’s what provides the most intimate moments of A Home for My Heart, seeing Suvana’s parents live in denial and face emotional turmoil unable to reconcile with her transition. It’s the documentary at its most candid, intensely personal moments that you usually don’t get to see.

However, there are also elements to it which perhaps feel too casual, there’s no tangible structure to the way that it moves. It flows from moment to moment in a haphazard sort of way, which doesn’t entirely work but does get points for feeling like a good representation of Suvana. As well as the fact that it’s exploring her story with no frills, it’s a boots on the ground style, getting straight into the action, even occasionally being a little too involved. It’s a strong observational style with heavy realism but at the same time it interestingly holds onto a lightness, mostly though Suvana’s outlook.

There’s a distinct, bold personality to Suvana, she’s fierce and determined. As well as being extremely stubborn, she gives out the sort of air that you wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. It’s interesting to not see too much vulnerability which you’d usually find in those transitioning. She still has that quality but it’s certainly balanced with a great deal of strength. Although perhaps the other main weakness is that we don’t get to see the bigger picture, to get to know more of her experience before we meet her. It feels like the documentary takes place within a very contained amount of time, like we’re seeing a snapshot and slightly missing out on the rest of her experience.

A Home for My Heart is a candid, intimate portrait of Suvana as she attempts to build her new life, and help her family to accept it. There’s a slight chaos to it, in how it throws herself into her life and goes along for the ride with nothing in mind other than to observe. It’s both a plus and a minus, it holds plenty of honesty but calls out for a stronger structure. It needed a slightly firmer hand on the wheel to shape its journey and delve a little deeper into the emotional issues at play.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Reviewed as part of Wales One World Film Festival 2023

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