Transamerica (2005) Directed by Duncan Tucker. With Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Elizabeth Pena, Raynor Scheine, Stella Maeve, Fionnula Flanagan, Graham Greene and Burt Young.
Felicity Huffman, perhaps best known for her role in the TV-series, Desperate Housewives, plays a pre-op male-to-female transsexual, who upon learning that she fathered a son goes on a road trip in an attempt to break their estrangement in the hope that it will help her begin a new life.
From that brief synopsis, it sounds like a heavy watch, but thankfully it’s a surprisingly easy time. Written and directed by Duncan Tucker, the film ambles along, happy to entertain a good sense of humour with some light and dark touches scattered for good measure. On top of that, it manages to be subtly moving, with an exceptional central performance from Huffman who despite her own glamour in the real world, utterly convinces as someone struggling with gender dysphoria.
For me, this is a film about human beings behind circumstances. It’s saying that we’re all guilty of labelling and tagging. It’s essential for our minds, for separation purposes. But what I think Transamerica is about, is how we’re all flawed human beings, with strengths and weaknesses. Perfection is more to do with who you are on the inside, away from the often cold narcissism of aesthetic beauty. Sure, we have to feel comfortable within our own skin, but people fall in love with who we are, not what we look like. It sounds mawkish, but the film cleverly sidesteps ever becoming so. It’s a important message for the modern world, and it’s well stated.
While in itself, Transamerica isn’t a perfect film, it is nevertheless brimming with little perfections. Huffman is a revelation and there’s no doubt that the film is a force for good. Also, I’m an absolute sucker for a good road movie. 4/5