K-11, the directorial debut of Kristen Stewart's mom Jules Stewart, is like a weird nightmare you just woke up from, in which you went to jail, watched someone shit out a balloon full of coke, stared at No.2 pencil-drawn chola eyebrows for way too long, heard someone howl, "I want a jailhouse fuck and I want it now!" while never quite grasping why anyone is doing what they're doing, ever. And did you get buttfucked? It's too fuzzy to be sure. It's the B-est, gayest, longest episode of Oz. It's madness, borderline camp and it seems to be aiming for something as sleazily quotable as Showgirls. It can't touch those debased heights, but any movie featuring an old, effete prisoner shouting, "I ain't leavin' here without my laxative! I'm in pain, god damn it!" either knows what it's doing or at least is wise enough to stay out of its own ridiculous way.
It would have been more insane had Kristen Stewart appeared in it as planned. The actress' rising profile had her drop out to take the starring role in Snow White and the Huntsman, which creepy weirdos will surely mourn because the role of Butterfly (as assumed by Youth in Revolt's Portia Doubleday) would have required Stewart to simulate being raped repeatedly. Under her mom's watch. By the guy who was Zeus in the WWF, no less. (Kristen Stewart does make a voice cameo during a phone call.)
Here is how Us Weekly put it:
Though Jules stands by her decision to recast her daughter's original role, the filmmaker still believes that Kristen would have done the part justice. "Kristen has a dark side," she tells Us. "Kristen has the edge — thank god, right?"
Well, now we see where she got it. I can't think of a less pleasant (thus more ideal) metaphor for the stage mom/child actor dynamic.
A neo-jailsploitation yarn that's virtually threadbare, K-11 is trash. It's watchable trash that very explicitly pushes lurid buttons by being set in the gay/trans wing of the Los Angeles' Men's Central Jail and having its characters ridiculously spar over contraband drugs and turf and showers. It is "run" by prisoner Mousey, who slinks around with the advanced smuttiness of a Rock of Love girl (she's the one with the No. 2 eyebrows) and says things like, "I'm the queen and this is my kingdom. You're in my world now. Mind your manners." Jason Mews (aka Jay of Jay and Silent Bob) is a featured player.
The marketing of this movie is as curious and slipshod as the film itself. Its official site proudly displays a pull quote from The Hollywood Reporter that isn't exactly a compliment: "Like a deranged John Waters remake of The Shawshank Redemption." Also on the site is a feature that invited you to make a picture of yourself over as "a transgender Mousey," an especially tasteless and clueless version of the Dragulator. (It's probably worth noting that the actress who plays Mousey, Kate del Castillo, was born a biological woman and is not trans.)
Also to Us Weekly, Stewart highlighted a theme of her movie:
"In the dorm, there's no racial issues — they're all gay or transgender," Jules says. "That's what holds them together. So race is not an issue, which was a big message in this film...It doesn't matter what color you are, everybody is the same."
Other non-issues in K-11 include the characters' eye color, place of birth, preferred salad dressing, favorite Friday the 13th installment and whether or not they are double jointed. Egalitarianism rules.
"To the world, I have no name. I am 'Mama Stew' - that's what they call me, all of her zillions of fans. Or I'm Kristen's mom; I'm famous for being her mom," she said with a shrug. "Most of the female directors that are successful in this business came up through the ranks. And I'm hoping to follow in their footsteps. I have my own career. My own thing going on. And I would hate to think that it's because of my 22-year-old that I got to direct a movie."
Right, but the first line of the press release I received for this movie is: "I'm writing to introduce you to K-11, the directorial debut of Jules Stewart, the mother of Twilight Star Kristen, starring Kate Del Castillo and Goran Visnjic." In all likelihood the aforementioned profiles (both of which name Kristen in their headlines) and this very review wouldn't exist without the K-Stew connection.
Then again, making an insane B-movie about queer prisoners who fuck and fight and canoodle and rub their silicone tits alluringly in open showers is not a bad way of removing yourself from whatever you've got going on at home. K-11 is a promising start.