Film Review: Chrissy Judy embraces its own queer personality with a raw, occasionally unlikeable edge

  • Peter Gray
  • April 10, 2023
  • Comments Off on Film Review: Chrissy Judy embraces its own queer personality with a raw, occasionally unlikeable edge

The release of Chrissy Judy feels rather aptly timed at the given moment considering the unnecessary controversy around the artform that is drag.  Its history has never been tied to sex or sexuality, so it’s incredibly ironic that anti-LGBTQIA+ conservatives have peddled their agenda against the art and have positioned themselves as “protecting” children from drag performers, seemingly believing that forms of abuse or grooming are somehow synonymous with the culture.

Going beyond that is not what this space is going to be about – but we all know we’re yet to hear about a child being hurt at a drag show – and with drag itself now an incredibly mainstream art, it makes sense that it earns an easy target mentality from closed-minded folks who refuse to look beyond their own psyche.  Todd Flaherty‘s Chrissy Judy, whilst not necessarily a film solely about drag, presents the scene in question with an honest, perhaps unflattering eye.  There’s no clichés about being a performer, with Flaherty – serving as writer, director and lead – creating a relatable piece about queer life, unafraid to present himself as occasionally unlikeable and deeply flawed; yes, sometimes the gays aren’t always ready to be showcased as the snappy best friend.

Now, that’s also not to say that Flaherty doesn’t lean into certain stereotypes, as his Judy (real name “James”, but he doesn’t want you to know that) hones a bitchy and promiscuous mentality that most audiences would link to an archetypal queer character, but he owns it, and as the film extends it becomes more and more evident that his biting persona masks a heft of insecurity.  Presenting his story in a black-and-white pallet, which in itself helps mask the film’s evident lower-end budget, his Judy is a New York scene drag queen who is determined to get his two-person act off the ground; years of workshopping has seemingly proven of little help to Judy and stage partner Chrissy (Wyatt Fenner).

More than friends, but less than lovers, Judy and Chrissy swirl in each other’s orbits, happily existing with each other in spite of their individual quirks and flaws.  Of course all good(?) things must come to an end, and on the eve of a potentially career-altering gig Chrissy informs Judy that he’s moving to Philadelphia to start anew with his beau.  Forced to reinvent himself, both personally and professionally, Judy looks to surround himself with new influences, but without Chrissy’s voice of reason it’s all too easy to give in to his usual vices, and Chrissy Judy‘s narrative certainly doesn’t treat the messier half of its titular duo with pride; the over-indulging in alcohol and penchant for no-strings sex with those off-limits likely to sit naturally with the intended queer audience.

Whilst the story itself doesn’t break any rules, what’s most refreshing about Flaherty’s handling of the material is that it’s all so organically presented.  The central relationship and its blurring of lines between friendship and relationship is one many queer people (especially men) will relate to, and both Flaherty and Fenner play off each other with a naturality that speaks to the type of dynamic that no matter what drama has occurred between them or the distance that currently separates them, theirs will always be a connection unbroken.

Despite being joined by an eclectic ensemble – James Tison as the fabulously named “Samoa” (yes, after “the country”) is a real treat, sprouting mantras and unafraid to put Judy in his place when necessary – Chrissy Judy is mostly a one-man show for Flaherty, with every other character serving purpose to surround him in some capacity.  And though Flaherty’s comedic ability appears strong, the film itself aims for more of a dramatic mentality, but any non-homophobic audience member should still find a certain joy in the honesty of this storytelling, one that doesn’t feel the need to sugarcoat the community’s hook-up culture and the warts-and-all temperament that comes with the nature of regular sex.

In a time when queer characters of all facets are being introduced and accepted (mostly) into mainstream entertainment, there’s something quite refreshing about Chrissy Judy arriving and allowing itself to be queer for the sake of its own queerness.  There’s no curating itself to “fit” into a larger experience for acceptance, and with all queer people have been through, sometimes we need something that’s just for us.


Chrissy Judy is currently screening in select theatres in the United States.  It’s available on VOD from April 11th, 2023.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.