Southern Californian Bree Osbourne, formerly Stanley Chupak, has finally received the news for which she has been waiting: she has been approved for male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery. But before Margaret, her therapist, will allow her to go through with the surgery scheduled in a week's time, Bree has to deal with an unresolved problem from her past. Bree gets a telephone call from a seventeen year old man named Toby Wilkins, who is looking for Stanley, his biological father. Toby is in a New York jail, having been supporting himself by petty crime and hustling. Stanley/Bree knew nothing about Toby before the telephone call. Toby apparently is all alone in the world, with his mother having committed suicide and being estranged from his stepfather in Tennessee. Masquerading as a Christian social worker, Bree, not telling him either of her true identity or her transgender status, bails Toby out of jail and tells him she will take him to Los Angeles, where Toby has aspirations ... Written by
Many scenes involve improvisation. The scene where the characters are riding in the car towards sunset is one of them: the director (Duncan Tucker) asked Felicity Huffman to start poking Kevin Zegers in the stomach and shoulder. Kevin Zegers stayed in character, and the director liked the result. See more »
In a scene inside the car as they are driving west, a camera shot shows Bree not wearing her seat belt. The camera switches to Toby, then back to Bree, who is now wearing her seat belt. See more »
Felicity Huffman's wry performance is Oscar quality
I first saw Transamerica as the closing film for the Frameline film festival in San Francisco where it won the "The Frameline Audience Award for Best Feature". The film was obviously a labor of love. Duncan Tucker wrote, directed and wisely cast Felicity Huffman as Bree (before she had been cast as a "desperate housewife"). Huffman's husband William Macy was executive producer.
The plot line is certainly the tried and true formula of the transformational road trip, yet the irony of Bree's concurrent sexual transformation freshens a story that could easily have been cliché. Kevin Zegers and the rest of the supporting cast are superb, but Huffman's characterization of Bree is Oscar caliber.
See Transamerica! It's not tragic like "Boys Don't Cry". It's not about sexuality, fetish, or camp. It's a movie about otherness, transformation, family, and ultimately acceptance. Felicity Huffman's Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated performance is absolutely astounding. Her acting skill fills Bree with insecurity, pathos, warmth, humor, and growth which ultimately transforms the audience's involvement from freak show curiosity to empathy and identification.
Thankfully the Weinstein brothers recognized just how outstandingly strong this performance is and decided that Transamerica would be one of the first films they would choose to distribute after their great success at Miramax.
I saw this movie again during it's limited distribution, again in general distribution and now own the DVD. Each time I've watched it I find even more to like. Transamerica is an indie classic.
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