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Transamerica - Review

Felicity Huffman in Transamerica

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Director Commentary; Making Of.

DESPERATE Housewives’ Felicity Huffman deservedly won a Golden Globe for her performance as a transsexual whose long sought after operation to become a woman is put on hold following the revelation that ‘she’ has a son.

Huffman is virtually unrecognisable as Bree Osbourne, sporting a deep voice and physical attributes that are perfectly in keeping with her character’s few remaining male traits.

Her performance is so strong, in fact, that it helps to elevate an otherwise bog-standard road movie into something far more satisfying.

Bree is just days away from the operation that will finally remove her male organs when she discovers that she has a street hustler son named Toby (Kevin Zegers) in New York who needs her help.

At the request of her counsellor, Bree heads to the Big Apple to bail him out and is then reluctantly forced into giving him a lift back to Los Angeles. But she stops short of revealing that she’s his father, claiming to be a samaritan-like figure who specialises in helping tearaway children (‘I’m from the church of the good father’).

The ensuing film plays out like a road movie as Bree and Toby slowly get to know each other while encountering all manner of difficulties en route to LA, from a romantic contemporary Indian to similarly dodgy hustlers.

There’s even time for Bree to stop at her parents’ house (played by Fionnula Flanagan and Burt Young) for the inevitable spot of soul-searching and confrontation.

As amusing and awkward as the journey can be, there’s no escaping the fact that Duncan Tucker’s film doesn’t really do anything different from countless other journeys aside from placing a transsexual at the centre of proceedings.

As such, much of the pleasure comes from seeing how Bree deals with her sexuality while attempting to keep her true identity from Toby – a decision that eventually gives rise to a genuinely hilarious misunderstanding.

Huffman is excellent, whether walking daintily to appear more feminine or curbing her desire to simply abandon Toby, but she is ably supported by the likes of Zegers and Graham Greene, as a Native American Calvin who has the hots for Bree.

There are, of course, some moments that make for uncomfortable viewing but Tucker isn’t afraid to shy away from some of the grittier aspects of the story and generally wins viewers over with some smart humour to accompany them.

While the ending satisfies without feeling the need to become overly sentimental.

Transamerica is therefore a hugely enjoyable experience that is well worth hitting the road to see.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 103mins