There will be people who on viewing this film by Duncan Tucker will find themselves repulsed by its nature, maybe fascinated a little, or trying to nit-pick the situations that develop at the second half. But for once, finally, like its sister film BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, there is a film which doesn't use the transgendered person as the butt of a joke. At last a movie that humanizes the experience and makes it accessible to anyone who watches it regardless of gender preference.
I'd been anxious to watch TRANSAMERICA on the heels of having watched NORMAL on HBO which also dealt on the same subject: a man who comes out to himself as being trapped in the wrong sex. Both films skirt away from too much melodrama and treat the issue with the dignity that it deserves, with the difference that TRANSAMERICA veers off into flat-out comedy with Bree's arrival to her family's home but even that looks welcome in a story that could have become tedious despite its risky subject matter.
The story of Bree, formerly known as Stanley, who is "this close" to getting her lifelong dream of being a woman, except for a little problem: she has a son, now 17 years old, who's in jail, and she must come to terms with him before taking this final step. She's none too happy: this means opening the door back to her old life as a man and she's not about to do this. The kid is a total hindrance. So she decides to keep it a secret, bail him out, drive him to Los Angeles, and be done with him.
And that in short is the entire set-up of TRANSAMERICA. It's a road movie about two people involved in an uneasy relationship, but unlike many road movies, these are two real, conscious, breathing people who tell more about their lives than any flashback sequence. Toby, for instance, isn't just another teen with troubles but someone who dreams to meet his father, who doesn't want to go to his home town because of a hideous secret that lives there. His incursion into porn remains unexplained, but many pornstars have a history of some form of abuse and a need to be loved but an ingrained fear of rejection which is the main issue with Toby. He wants a father but wonders will he be rejected. Kevin Zegers plays Toby like a quieter, but still intense Leo DiCaprio.
Felicity Huffman, needless to say, has the meatier role. She seems to be adept in playing real people who have real stories to tell as in her turn as Lynette Scavo on "Desperate Housewives". Since not much is said about Bree (except that she, like Bree from the show as played by Marcia Cross is also a perfectionist if a dowdier one, a woman who obsesses over voice inflections and personal appearance and social decorum), everything is left to Huffman's body language and facial expressions. I kept wondering what it was that made her, as Stanley, veer off into what seems to be an underachieving life when she had it all. Since many transsexuals have gone this path -- leaving a life of "normalcy" and working odd jobs, trying to blend in or to live as a "stealth" -- it didn't surprise me when I saw that Bree was a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. Transsexuals for the majority live lonely lives, and unless they are in gender-tolerant cities, they won't be found in the corporate arena. Many of them go through incredible hardships and meet violent ends. Some thrive as performers, on the fringes of society, seen as "freaks" to be snickered at. That is what we as a society impose on them: a friendly alienation. Huffman manages to bring all that forth in the way she behaves among people -- even how she is in her own home, all practiced gestures and shy manners. She is her role, down to her private parts.
And bold, for showing them -- where most actresses over the age of forty would balk at a nude scene Huffman dives in, and even though it's short, because we've seen her with a fake penis on two occasions, it's fitting to see her as the woman she is portraying. Very, very daring without being exploitative.
TRANSAMERICA is more tolerant and compassionate than it seems at first. Like I stated, the film does not leer at her like a freak of nature but a real person, though she herself, her need for perfection, is the one to bring out the laughter. It may not eventually be awarded the Oscar for Best Actress but as of now it's going down in history as being a sensitive portrayal of a woman trying to make it in the world with her son.
Adventure / Comedy / Drama
Adventure / Comedy / Drama
Southern Californian Bree Osbourne, formerly Stanley Chupak, has finally received the news for which she has been waiting: she has been approved for male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery. But before Margaret, her therapist, will allow her to go through with the surgery scheduled in a week's time, Bree has to deal with an unresolved problem from her past. Bree gets a telephone call from a seventeen year old man named Toby Wilkins, who is looking for Stanley, his biological father. Toby is in a New York jail, having been supporting himself by petty crime and hustling. Stanley/Bree knew nothing about Toby before the telephone call. Toby apparently is all alone in the world, with his mother having committed suicide and being estranged from his stepfather in Tennessee. Masquerading as a Christian social worker, Bree, not telling him either of her true identity or her transgender status, bails Toby out of jail and tells him she will take him to Los Angeles, where Toby has aspirations ...
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
March 23, 2021 at 07:52 PM