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At Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge

Dec. 14 to 16

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert meets The Bad News Bears in The Iron Ladies, a truth-based inspirational comedy about the gay male volleyball team that won Thailand’s 1996 national championship. Two gifted players, Mon and his best friend Jung, are rejected by their hometown league because of their homosexuality. When Bee, an unprejudiced female coach, is hired to assemble a winning team and holds open tryouts, she selects Mon and Jung. The straight players walk out in protest, whereupon Bee asks Mon to pick the rest of a new team. His choices include a gay soldier, a closeted athlete, and a transsexual cabaret performer and her boyfriend. The Iron Ladies serves up an assortment of queer-cinema stereotypes: the sensitive, mother-worshiping jock; the prideful, outspoken drag queen; the brawny but nelly muscle boy as concerned about the condition of his fingernails as athletics; the glamorous sex-change; and the troubled young man confused about his sexuality. At one point, the entire team, dressed as women, performs a showstopping protest song, “Accept Me as I Am.” The second-highest-grossing movie in Thai film history, The Iron Ladies is a manipulative crowd-pleaser, overflowing with righteous sentiments and indomitable optimism. Despite the lively performances, it’s overlong, murkily photographed, rather crudely directed by Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, and almost entirely formulaic, but that hardly matters. If you’re in the mood to see a feel-good movie about gay, transvestite, and transsexual Thai volleyball players, it’s the only game in town. —Joel E. Siegel