Martin Curland's debut feature Zerophilia is an indie film of ideas, which, in theory, is a fine thing to be. Here's the gimmick: Taylor Handley plays a soft-featured college boy who has his first real relationship with a woman (Rebecca Mozo) and finds the new influx of hormones turning him into a "zerophiliac," a person who switches genders unexpectedly. Once the transformation is fully complete (and the character is played by Marieh Delfino instead of Handley), s/he becomes attracted to Mozo's brother, Kyle Schmid. While the cross-gender romance plot plays out, Curland toys with the meaning of sexual identity, primarily by making his hero a wimpy guy who affects being manly by driving a diesel truck as his get-around vehicle.


Curland means to examine whether sexual attraction transcends conventional notions of "masculinity" and "femininity," but Zerophilia's tone is way off. It's too giggly by half, and packed with lame jokes about how guys can make girls happy by pretending to like The English Patient, and how the word "sucks" shouldn't mean "bad," because hey, who doesn't like blowjobs? And premise aside, Zerophilia doesn't take any real chances. Curland concocts one well-considered shot towards the end, comparing strikingly similar close-ups of a bare female torso and a bare male torso, but otherwise, he ignores the visual possibilities of fluid sexuality.

Perhaps the problem is his cast, which is populated by young actors and actresses who've done some TV and had a few mainstream-movie bit parts, and may be on a Hollywood career path that precludes taking off their clothes for a low-budget movie. All the nudity in Zerophilia is either prosthetic or body-doubled. Which means the sex scenes—and the feeling and meaning behind them—are just as phony.