Mala Mala

Mala Mala ★★★½

As nice as it is when a documentary is informative, it also helps if it feels like a damn movie. That’s what Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles achieve in their tour through the world of transgender people and drag queens in Puerto Rico, wisely never attempting to draw overarching conclusions about the community. Indeed, it’s most effective at providing a wide variety of voices: some that lament the focus on Barbie-doll looks, some that see no point in getting any kind of physical surgery, and so on. But even more surprisingly, it’s just a beautifully shot movie, never falling back on a static talking head when a slow-motion shot under pulsing red siren light might be more potent; even the closing credits have a spunky flair to them. The multiple profiles leave a few feeling half-sketched, and the climax built around an attempt to pass anti-discrimination legislation feels like rote material for this kind of documentary. But damn, mija, this thing has style.