I haven’t heard about this film until last week around the whole Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Cover craze started happening. Though I can’t say I cared much about the whole Bruce Jenner interview back in April, for some reason I was very enthusiastic about Caitlyn’s Vanity debut as I did think it was a new model on rise (and you know what? she is!)
But I digress…
Discussing the whole Caitlyn situation brought this film to my attention, as it deals with the hardships (and sometimes comical) happenings of Felicity Hoffman’s very funny and warm portrayal of Bree, a transexual woman. Bree used to be known as Stanley, but in the case with most transexuals, they believe they were born with the wrong gender and she hopes to completely change herself to how she sees fits. Though Bree often plays as a tragic character, her behavior gives off a Chaplin-esque vibe; stumbling around and coming as clueless sometimes. The film’s plot picks up when, days before her final surgery that will complete her transformation, she is hit with the news that she has child in jail from her days as Stan. With her therapist and friend (played by Elizabeth Pena) unable to professionally permit her until she deals with this, Bree is forced to make the trip from LA to New York to bail him out. The son Toby is played Kevin Zegers as the most open minded delinquent you’ll ever meet. With not much family and hopes to move to California for a movie career, Toby wants to go with Bree on her trip back. Posing as a Christian missionary and not hinting at her relationship to him with Toby, the two go on a country crossing road trip.
Probably the my favorite thing about this film is that you could take out the whole transgender storyline and it would seem like another run of the mill road trip film. Director Duncan Tucker treats this as a road trip with some mentions of themes of sexuality and transgender issues as well as LGBT issues as well without it seeming like just a gimmick. The themes of family and identity are the center of this film which really dose come together with tone the film is going for.
Obviously, with a film dealing with this type of content, it might be a little uncomfortable for most viewers. Duncan Tucker isn’t afraid to get a little intimate and revealing in some scenes, which can appall some. Even though this a comedy drama, this is heavy stuff we are dealing with. But even still, it’s handled with care and respect for the transgendered community.
Something else i have to commend this film for is it’s portrayal of non-transgender characters dealing with Bree. This being a road trip film, you will meet a bunch of characters who offer a different point of view on the subject, even if some don’t really know what’s going on. Some express confusion over it and this should relate with some viewers who are also confused about transgender people. But that’s okay! It’s perfectly normal to be confused about something, but what it shouldn’t lead to resentment and hate. At least that’s the message I got out of this film
As I mentioned before, Family is a big theme in the story and the film offers an interesting take on the idea. Both Bree and Toby come from very dysfunctional family lives. SPOILER ALERT: To be brief, Toby going through abuse in the hands of his step father and Bree’s family’s handle on forgetting about Stanley and accepting Bree into their lives. When it comes to families in movies, there is usually something that has to drive them apart in order for them to be closer together. In Bree’s case, it’s never easy for a family to accept a drastic change in one’s appearance, but it’s necessary for the whole clan to be happy. But sometimes, in Toby’s case, you can find family in strangers when your traditional one is lost upon you
Overall score: 4/5
Most Likely, to love it: Open Minds, Open Hearts
Most likely to hate it: Probably anybody who thinks there’s nothing wrong with this video: