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Transamerica (R)

Release Date: December 2nd, 2005 by The Weinstein Company and IFC Films.
The Cast: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Graham Greene, Burt Young, Elezabeth Peña.
Directed by Duncan Tucker.

BASIC PREMISE: Bree (Huffman), a transsexual, travels across the country with her son Toby (Zegers), whom she has never met before.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Despite an unsurprising plot, Felicity Huffman’s brave performance as Bree makes it more engaging than it should be. Like Marcia Gay Harden in Gaudi Afternoon , she plays a man who has been changed into a woman. Transamerica begins right before she’s about to have an operation down below to complete the change. When she learns that she has a son who is jailed in New York for drug possession, she flies from Los Angeles to bail him out for a mere dollar. As they travel westward, she tries not to disclose her true identity—or true gender, for that matter. Throughout their road trip, they go through interesting adventures along the way, such a hitchhiker who befriends them only to end up robbing them as well as a kind Native American (Greene) who offers them a ride and a temporary place to stay. The plot becomes slightly more interesting when Bree stops by to surprise her conservative, opinionated mother (Flanagan). In a creepy scene, Toby tries to make a move on Bree. The confrontation has a few unexpected laughs, but this clichéd third act seems awkwardly different from the rest of the film. It simply turns into a contrived soap-opera with a few moments of sitcom where all the secrets are revealed with all of the melodramatic yelling and door-slamming.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: There are a few moving moments between Toby and Bree, especially as their relationship gradually develops into something meaningful. Although they seem different at first, they have more in common with one another than think. Both continuously search for love and acceptance in a world that's not always fair.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A predictable, clichéd third act.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A by-the-numbers plot with a particularly weak third act, but Felicity Huffman’s Oscar-worthy performance makes Transamerica irresistibly entertaining.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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