January 27, 2011

Queer Review: Transamerica

Transamerica (2005)
Director: Duncan Tucker
Cast: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Burt Young, Elizabeth Peña

Transamerica is your basic road trip movie in which the main character happens to be a Male-to-Female transgender woman. It is by no means a terrible movie, simply a rather not terribly good one. The biggest problem is the slow pacing.

Here is what happens. Bree (Felicity Huffman) is a week away from the surgery that will finalize her transformation into a biological woman. A surprise comes when she receives a phone call from her long lost son, Toby (Kevin Zegers) who needs to be bailed out of jail. At the urging of her therapist (Elizabeth Peña), she reluctantly flies to New York City to pay Toby's bail. Pretending to be from the Church of the Potential Father, she eventually consents to drive Toby to Los Angelos, where he intends to become a porn actor. The bulk of the movie consists of Bree and Toby as they make their way from NYC to LA. On the way they are forced by circumstances to make a detour to meet Bree's parents (Fionnula Flanagan and Burt Young).

On the whole, Transamerica is a movie of inconsistent quality. Felicity Huffman gives a non-flashy performance that should have gotten wider attention than it did. There is also some interesting underdeveloped thematic material. Also, I have to say the movie deserves some credit for not going completely out of it's way to avoid controversy. The biggest flaw, as I mentioned earlier, is the pacing. At times I found myself wishing things would pick up or that the movie would at least find something worthwhile to say.

At the end of the day, a mediocre movie is a mediocre movie. Transamerica while showing some promise, unfortunately fails to capitalize on it.

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