Transamerica

A Film Review By Jeff Fro

Starring: Felicity Huffman
Directed By: Richard Shephard
Rated: R for drug use, nudity, and sexuality

Final Grade:
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Transamerica is a journey. It gives us the chance to see what life must be like at times for someone who is not who they believe they really are, both physically and emotionally. It forces that person out into a society that can be brutally honest and cold in it’s ambivalence. And it makes both the character and the viewer aware that respecting yourself can hold the greatest rewards.

Felicity Huffman plays Stanley/Bree, a pre-operative trans sexual who is one week away from the final surgery to complete the transformation from male to female. Bree is informed by phone from New York that seventeen years ago she may have fathered a son during a fleeting college affair. That son has landed in jail and requires a parent to come for him to be released. Bree’s counselor advises that this new information and person must be addressed before she will approve the last surgery. That forces Bree to head to New York City to confront her long lost son and her reality.

Bree flies from Los Angeles to New York and is mistaken by her son as a religious missionary. Her son wants to go to LA to get into the adult film industry. So together they head to Los Angeles keeping the secret that she is in fact his father and that she is in fact still a man wearing women’s clothes.

Along the way they encounter a highway full of tragic people and circumstance. The way they deal with those issues and the predictable reveals of the secrets, creates a bond with each other and with the audience. Bree has been so consumed with self examination, she has stopped noticing how other people see her. This journey allows her to see people can care or even be attracted to her along with those who will never see past who she used to be. But most people just treat her normally and average. We get a sense of relief when no one in the film judges her more harshly than she does herself. And even her own judgments are put into perspective by juxtaposition with things that really matter.

This film was highly enjoyable. I would say this film is a true buddy road picture with a real sense of humor at it’s core. Some people may be put off by some of the subject matter, but this is not a story about people most of us associate with every day. If you allow a film to take you to places that your ordinary life would never take you, then you can appreciate this film for the real humanity and heart that was carefully included in the story.

The film makers obviously cared about every character shown. Even Bree’s obnoxious parents are shown to act so radically because of a misplaced sense of love and protection. There can be heartbreak and hope all in the same place. And by the conclusion of the film, you may know just a little what may be like to not fit into your own body and life.

But you’ll be glad that you do!

The Verdict:
A journey on the fringe of society, one worth a visit.

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