TRANSAMERICA (Duncan Tucker, 2005)

Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica is preposterous, with more holes in it than Swiss cheese. The bail-jumping doesn’t bother me, because in a case where bail is set at $1 there’s no way that the New York City legal system would bother about this kid. But why on earth would Toby go off with this presumed missionary and how, once he has seen Bree’s penis, can he possibly not be able to figure out who Bree is? It’s farfetched that Toby can’t answer his own question when he asks Bree why she is helping him; it is twenty times more farfetched when he asks Bree why her mother is being so nice to him. But, but, but . . .
     The film overflows with sweetness, humor, humanity, and as much convincing as contrived conflict. All the acting is excellent, and Felicity Huffman gets better and better as the film proceeds. The film’s aura and sensibility reminded me of Gillian Armstrong’s 1987 High Tide starring Judy Davis.
     I remain, as you know, highly susceptible to road pictures, but in recent years I’ve been seeing a lot of bad ones. While no one could mistake Transamerica for being a major entry in the genre, the consensus that it’s a so-so film sparked by a brilliant performance is wrong. Watching it comes close to pure pleasure—and there’s even a little Dolly Parton at the end.

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