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TRANSAMERICA: What's Your Daddy's Bra Size?
By Brandon Judell
Felicity Huffman as Bree in "TRANSAMERICA," directed by Duncan Tucker. Photo by Rafael Winer / Belladonna Productions.
The Tribeca Film Festival has a small gem on its hands.
Yes, you can argue Duncan Tucker's feature debut's plotline certainly has been done. A parent is thrown together with the child he or she has never seen before, and after an hour or so of angst, followed by recriminations, the two realize they love each other and form a new sort of family.
The twist here is that daddy is an uptight pre-op transsexual and sonny is a street hustler. Yes, Bree (formerly Stan), played by Desperate Housewives' Felicity Huffman, is a week away from her sexual reassignment surgery when she gets a call that the son she never knew about is in jail. Due to the insistence of her shrink (Elizabeth Peña), Bree flies to New York and bails out her stunning boychick, Toby (Kevin Zegers), a drug-sniffing lad for hire.
Not ready for motherhood or fatherhood, Bree lies and tells Toby she's a Christian missionary trying to save his soul. What she's actually trying to do though is find the lad a home so she can get back to L.A., have her penis trnsformed into a vagina, and live her life happily ever after as a "genetic girl."
Why the rush? When asked by a therapist what she thinks of her male sex organ, Bree replies: "It disgusts me. I don't even like looking at it."
What follows is an often funny, yet at times hard-nosed, road film that causes the duo to bond with each other-and with you.
Besides the clever writing and the never-draggy direction, the perfect casting by Eve Battaglia must be credited for Transamerica's success. Not a role, big or small, is incorrectly embodied.
Grant Monohon as an affable hitchhiker almost elicits a Brad Pitt moment in a brief scene where he gets stoned, skinny-dips, and then does something very naughty.
Kevin Zegers as Toby in "TRANSAMERICA," directed by Duncan Tucker. Photo by Rafael Winer / Belladonna Productions.
Fionnula Flanagan, who was brilliant as the solo star of James Joyce's Women is hilarious here as Bree's overbearing Christian mom. Graham Greene is equally fine as Bree's naïve momentary love interest.
But the two leads are who make this off-the-wall so memorable. Kevin Zegers, recently seen in Dawn of the Dead, emits exactly the right dosages of emotional damage, societal rebellion, and teen hunk flirtiness to win over the most misanthropic heart.
But Felicity Huffman had me totally convinced that she was a male actor playing a man on female hormones. It's an award-worthy performance. Yes, this diva has range.
As does Transamerica. Just imagine The Crying Game bumps into Meet the Fockers, and you . . . Well, forget the imagining. Just go see this emotionally extravagant, impressively wise, little, comic indie.[Judell]
Director/writer: Duncan Tucker
Production Manager: Elinyisia Mosha
Cast: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Elizabeth Peña, Burt Young, Andrea James, David Harrison
Copyright © Brandon Judell 2005
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