out of Five
Running time: 103
Enjoyable, sharply written, darkly funny and ultimately moving film with an astonishing performance from Felicity Huffman.
What’s it all about?
Felicity Huffman (Lynette from Desperate Housewives) stars as Bree (formerly Stanley), a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual living in L.A, who receives a phone call from a jailed teenager named Toby (Kevin Zegers), Toby claims to be her son from a long-forgotten sexual encounter back when she was a man. Bree’s instinct is to turn her back on her past, but her therapist (Elizabeth Pena) insists she deal with it and withholds legal permission for Bree’s final operation.
Bree grudgingly travels to New York to bail Toby out of jail and when he mistakes her for a Christian missionary, she doesn’t correct his mistake. Instead she offers him a lift to L.A, while secretly planning to abandon him with the stepfather he ran away from. Will they manage to bond during their journey trans America? Well, what do you think?
Felicity Huffman recently won a Golden Globe for her role as Bree and it’s easy to see why. It’s an astonishing performance (not least because Bree isn’t an immediately sympathetic character) and Huffman gives it her all, transforming her physicality and her voice and revealing a character whose lifetime of pain and heartache is present in every gesture.
However, Transamerica is far from a one-woman show. Zegers is extremely impressive as the troubled, but deeply naive Toby (he wants to go to L.A in order to break into X-rated movies). There’s also strong support from Graham Greene as a kindly ranch-owner who flirts with Bree.
The script is extremely well written, with moments of dark humour. The semi-documentary style of the film also works brilliantly, adding a naturalism that helps to ground the script’s more far fetched moments.
In short, this is an enjoyable, funny and ultimately moving film that’s worth seeing for Huffman’s performance. Recommended.