I find it disturbing that Felicity Huffman plays a man playing a woman so well. Once, I was walking through downtown Portland, Oregon, and I saw a she-male that I actually now think was Huffman. They looked disturbingly identical. While the role is a far cry from the belabored, kind-of-hot mom from Desperate Housewives, Huffman will blow your mind with this disturbing, but brilliant performance.
Transamerica was released in 2005 and hit the festival circuit hard; visiting the Berlin, Tribeca, New York, Vienna, and Toronto Festivals just to name a few. It was directed by Duncan Tucker (The Mountain King) on an extremely modest budget of one million dollars.
The film follows our protagonist Bree, formerly known as Stanley (Huffman) who is just a few weeks shy of completing her transformation into a woman. Yeah, you know what I mean. A tracheal shave has given her a higher (but still masculine) voice, hormones have given her breasts and cycles, and the finishing touch is within reach and has been approved by her therapist (Elizabeth Pena) and the American Psychiatric Association. It’s then that Bree discovers that her single hetrosexual act as a male during college led to a child, who is now a 17 year old, hustler/junkie in jail in New York City named Toby (Kevin Zegers). The bulk of the film follows the pair as they roadtrip it back from NYC to California, where Bree has built her new life. Necessity forces them to stop at Bree’s parents’ place where tensions run high when they discover her plans to cut off her junk.
Huffman is truly at the top of her game in this challenging film, and certainly gave one of the best performances of 2005. She will leave you utterly speechless. Her mannerisms, her altered voice, her awkward swagger of a walk, they all convince you that she, is in fact, a very confused, transgendered man, er, woman. Tucker also proves he knows what he’s doing behind the camera and made a small slice of delicious cinematic pie for us to enjoy. Rent this with an open mind (and be aware you’ll see Huffman nude both pre and post-op…)
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and drug use.