Cast: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Carrie Preston, Burt Young, Elizabeth Pena, Graham Greene
Director: Duncan Tucker
Screenplay: Duncan Tucker
Rated: MA strong themes, strong sexual references, drug use
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Life Is More Than The Sum Of Its Parts
Felicity Huffman leaves the glamour of 'Desperate Housewives' behind and makes a surprising diversion with this offbeat film, 'Transamerica'. Playing an uptight male-to-female transsexual named Sabrina "Bree" Osbourne (née Stanley), Huffman gives a remarkable performance. Readying herself for the final snip that will make her womanly transformation complete, Bree's life takes a sudden turn when she receives a phone call from New York. Her son, Toby (Kevin Zegers), has been jailed, and Bree needs to post bail for him. The only problem is, Bree didn't know she had a son, but her therapist refuses to give her written permission to have the final part of her sex-change operation if she doesn't go, so Bree heads east from her California home. Thinking Bree is a Christian missionary, gay hustler Toby informs her of his intention to become a porn star on the west coast, which brings out plenty of motherly instincts in the worried cross-gender father. So the two take a road trip west, with Bree flailing in her attempts to tell Toby the truths about who she is and what she once was.
Sabrina "Bree" Osbourne is one week away from her gender-reassignment operation that will complete her transformation from male to female. Complications arise when she receives a phone call from a boy who is allegedly her son produced from a relationship when Bree was a teenage Stanley Osbourne. Bree's therapist won't sign the final consent to her operation unless she goes to New York to sort out the possibility that this boy, Toby, is indeed her son and so Bree reluctantly visits the troubled Toby and agrees to take him to California where he wants to pursue an acting career, hopefully in the gay-porn industry. But Toby is unaware that Bree may be his father and is mistakenly lead to believe that Bree is a missionary.
All hell breaks loose as the two then set off on a road trip from New York to Los Angeles which sees them slowly revealing themselves to each other and meeting some colourful characters along the way including a visit to Bree's parents when finances run dismally low.
As Bree, Felicity Huffman is just brilliant. She easily manages to convince that she is a man about to physically become a woman, complete with the voice to match and the physical attributes. She is also able to deliver a very anxious woman, with a highly developed dry wit who abhors caricatures of transsexuals. It is this aspect of the character that is the most developed, rather than the process that lead Stanley to becoming Bree. This is not a movie about how a person became a transsexual, but more about how that person deals with what she has now become and how others now perceive her, along with her relationship with her immediate relatives.
Often filled with amusing situations and witty conversations, these are counter-balanced with some grounding moments of emotional intensity, which are dealt with skilfully and confidently. A road trip is not complete without some decent scenery, which thankfully was not ignored.
Writer/Director Duncan Tucker has produced a wonderfully uplifting experience and a charming and engaging performance from Huffman makes 'Transamerica' a quiet achiever that deserves high praise for its handling of what could have been a soap-box event. Thankfully it's not one of those.
Rating : ****½