A Deal with the Universe Review

A Deal with the Universe Review

Jason Barker, the director of this very personal documentary, was born female, but underwent a gradual transition into becoming a man not long after meeting his partner Tracey. Their main dream in life, it seems, has always been to have a child, but the process of achieving this goal has been a long and often painful process.

Jason began taking testosterone in 2000 but stopped taking it once he realised that Tracey was unlikely to become pregnant herself. They then considered IVF, and Jason even admits that "I assumed it would work first time and that my little film of us would be a funny thing to look back on when our child was older". Of course, this belief did not last long. More complications then arose when Tracey was diagnosed with breast cancer. All of the odds seemed to be stacked against them, but they were not willing to give up hope.

This extraordinary documentary details how Jason, after numerous miscarriages and heartbreaks, gives birth to their child as a transgender man. Shot entirely on home video, we are given a deep insight into the lives of these two people who are, undoubtedly, head over heels in love with each other. Sometimes, Jason will film Tracey doing even the most mundane of tasks, but you are invested in them because it highlights just how much he admires his partner. She feels like a special person because Jason clearly believes that she is.

Stories about transitioning to the opposite sex often involve the transgender person discussing all of the prejudices they have faced in their lives. Obviously, this is an important issue to address, but Jason doesn't seem to want to tackle his story in this way. He very rarely mentions the people who have been transphobic towards him and, even when he does, he tends to do so at stand-up comedy gigs. Rather than releasing his anger towards them, he presents them as idiots who aren't even worth responding to. It's a very different way of dealing with these insults, and it's also a refreshing one.

The good-humoured nature of this couple makes the documentary a pleasant one to watch at times, but the upsetting moments are utterly devastating. Jason and Tracey are people who tried to conceive a child for over a decade, and Jason makes it clear that, like transitioning from female to male, it's a bumpy journey, full of highs but also severe lows. Due to how likeable they are and their unwillingness to take themselves too seriously, it makes it all the more devastating when life does hit them in the face. Finally seeing Jason break down into tears after another failed attempt, especially considering that he managed to remain positive for so long, is completely understandable. It only makes the viewing experience all the more heartwarming when the couple eventually succeed.

Unlike some documentaries, A Deal with the Universe doesn't seem to warrant repeated viewings. But it is vital to watch it at least once because it is such a unique take on the narrative of a transgender person. This film beautifully shows that a transgender person is more than the fact that they have transitioned from one gender to another. They, like every person in society, have their own needs and desires. You are with Jason and Tracey every step of the way.


The home footage material may not make this a visual marvel, but A Deal with the Universe works because the human element is so strong and poignant.


out of 10

A Deal with the Universe (2018)
Dir: Jason Barker | Cast: N/A | Writer: N/A


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