Directed by: Duncan Tucker
Written by:Duncan Tucker
Starring: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Elizabeth Pena, Graham Greene, Burt Young
Released: February 23, 2006
Grade: A-

Bree Osbourne (Huffman) is a loner who is can’t find happiness in her life.  She was once a man but since a very early age, she has wanted to be a woman.  Her family subsequently disowned her and Bree’s manly appearance has made it difficult for her to socialise without fear of retribution.  She lives on her own and works two jobs – one as a dish hand at a restaurant and the other as a phone salesperson.

Bree believes her life will improve when she completes the final stage of her gender transformation.  To use her language, her penis will be turned from “an outie to an innie”.  She has been saving for the operation for months and her therapist believes she is ready to handle it emotionally.

Out of the blue, Bree receives a phone call from a boy named Toby.  He has been arrested for drug possession in New York and is trying to get in touch with Stanley, his biological father whom he has never met.  The call leaves her in shock because Bree is Stanley.  As a man, he only ever slept with one woman and he never knew he even had a son.

Bree is reluctant at first but eventually travels to New York to bail Toby out.  She doesn’t reveal her identity and pretends to be a Christian missionary assigned by her Church to help out troubled youths.  Toby wants to go to Los Angeles to start a movie career (in the porn industry) and so the unlikely pair go on a road trip across the United States.  A bond develops but does Bree want Toby as a part of her life?  Has she the courage to reveal who she really is?

Transamerica is a low-budget independent film (it cost just $1m) that might not ordinarily have been released in Australia.  The reason for the buzz is the performance of Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) in the leading role.  She has picked up many awards and is a firming second favourite behind Reese Witherspoon in the best actress Oscar race.

It’s a dream role for Huffman but a very difficult one.  She is a woman in real life but has to play a man who wants to be a woman.  I was reluctant at the start of the film and saw her more as “a woman trying to look like a man”.  By the end of the film however, I was won over.  Not to be forgotten is co-star Kevin Zegers (Air Bud) is a role which will help his own transformation from child actor to adult actor.  His performance brings out his own character’s innocence and insecurities.

Performances aside, Transamerica is an interesting film.  It’s not the kind of story you see every day.  There’s a great tension too as you wait with eagerness to see if Bree tells Toby who she really is.  Check it out!