“The Humbling” clip shows its lesbian lead to be a transphobic narcissist

I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not super thrilled about the film adaptation of The Humbling. The 2009 Philip Roth novel the movie is based on was an offensive work about a lesbian-identified woman named Pegeen who left her partner because they transitioned from female to male. In the book, we never meet her partner, but it looks like the film decided to bring him into the picture.

In the clip below, Billy Porter plays Prince, Pegeen’s (Greta Gerwig) ex who wants her back, “now that she’s sleeping with men.” The man she’s sleeping with is also in the clip: Simon, as played by Al Pacino.

So far it appears Pegeen comes off as a transphobic narcissist, which is even worse than the character in the book who wasn’t portrayed as bisexual, but as a lesbian who was bored and decided to sleep with a man to get back at her parents and her female exes. While it’s understandable that lesbians, like anyone else, are imperfect people, it’s tragic to see a film creating a worse transphobic plotline than previously existed in the book. The idea that Pegeen left her partner during his transition (and because of it) was enough to see the kind of partner she was. The exchange with Prince was further proof she is just a really terrible person. If that’s the point of the film, than The Humbling will be worse than I expected.

In another clip, Pegeen is swimming at night while Simon is ominous and weird and cliche, all at the same time.

The Humbling opens in theaters on January 23.