May 12 2013
This is one of those movies that just has to be seen by everyone. Unfortunately even though it is marked by an Academy Award–nominated and Golden Globe–winning performance by actress Felicity Huffman, the film only made $15 million (though on a $1 million budget). I found myself admiring everyone in this 2005 film and the way it was depicted. The script adds lots of humour to the story of a person about to go through a major change in their life and discovering that they are also a parent, albeit 17 year after the birth of the child. Produced by Huffman’s husband William H Macy (also a wonderful actor) Transamerica was directed by Duncan Tucker & co-written by the both of them and starring Huffman & Kevin Zegers with supporting roles by Graham Green, Fionnula Flanagan, Burt Young, Carrie Preston & Elizabeth Peña.
Huffman plays Sabrina ‘Bree’ Osbourne, a transsexual working in a Mexican restaurant in a Los Angeles suburb, who is about to under a vaginoplasty (to reassign her sexual organ from a male to female) when she gets a call from the son she never knew she had. Years ago while in college Sabrina was Stanley Schupak had a girlfriend and a sexual encounter has produced the son Toby. With his mother long dead Toby asks for Stanley to bail him out of a jail in NYC. Bree initially wants nothing to do with him but her therapist Margaret refuses to give her consent on the form for the operation unless Bree goes & sees him. So she does and finds out that Toby is a drug user and a male prostitute. His mother committed suicide, after which he was raised by his stepfather, whom he does not want to see again. Pretending to be a Christian missionary, Bree asks Toby to ride with her in a rented car back West and plans to drop him at his stepfather’s place. At the house in Kentucky, Bree finds out that Toby was sexually molested when young by his stepfather and hence she agrees to take him with her to Los Angeles, where he plans to get work in the movies.
Along the way they get to stay in a large house where a transsexual gathering is taking place. One evening when Bree has to urinate, Toby catches her reflection in the mirror and sees her penis but doesn’t say anything to her then. He is open-minded about it, but is angry that Bree had not told him. They meet a hitchhiker who steals their belongings and their car so Toby prostitutes himself to a truck driver for some money, which he tells Bree he made selling some of his drugs. hey get a ride with a kindly rancher Calvin Many Goats (Graham Greene) to Bree’s parents’ house in Phoenix, Arizona. There Bree reunites with her somewhat sympathetic younger sister Sydney, her conservative and self-centred mother Elizabeth & her Jewish father Murray. Flannagan who plays Bree’s mother is hystericaly funny as she wails about seeing her son as a woman now. However Elizabeth is excited to find out she has a grandson and is kind & generous to Toby, who still has no idea that he is Bree’s son. Elizabeth wants Toby to stay with them in their house but Toby, though he likes the luxury and kindness, hesitates because he does not like how disrespectful they are to Bree. That night he tries to seduce Bree and kisses her – and Bree blurts out the truth that she, as Stanley, is actually Toby’s father. Toby goes mad and hits Bree as she tries to apologize. He steals some money from the house and goes away during the night.
Bree returns to Los Angeles and has the surgery successfully but is sad and cries on the shoulders of Margaret as she has messed things up with Toby. He, has come to Los Angeles, dyes his hair blond and becomes an actor in gay pornographic films. A few months later, a happy Bree, who is waitressing at the same Mexican restaurant gets a visit from Toby and the two reconcile as they catch up, starting their relationship anew.
Brilliant acting by some of the cast. 9 outta 10!