Published Dec 01, 2005Shot before her rise to boob tube superstardom in Desperate Housewives, Felicity Huffman is about to reap the benefits of Transamerica.
In a year of few decent roles for leading actresses, she could find herself nominated for an Oscar for her performance as Bree, a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual. It's the type of showy, "pretty girl gets ugly" role that the Oscars love (see pretty much every winner in the past half-decade), and it just happens to involve the theme de jour homosexuality (see two other major contenders this year: Brokeback Mountain and Capote). But while Huffman is actually quite good, the film has found itself released at the right time, as it's really nothing more than a "run of the mill" road trip flick.
Born Stanley, Bree is about to take the final medical step in becoming a woman. However, a film wouldn't be a film without some conflict, so enter Toby (Kevin Zegers), the 17-year-old son Bree never knew she had. Bree ends up having to bail Toby out of jail and is not particularly ready to inform him of the situation. So, Bree takes him on a road trip across America that will can you guess? change their lives forever.
The concept and themes of father-son trauma are nothing new, even in this "transsexual as father" context (Pedro Almadovar's All About My Mother handled this very idea) and director Tucker doesn't exhibit himself as any sort of extraordinary new talent. But Huffman does make Transamerica more than what it could be. You forget you are watching a desperate housewife within minutes, as Huffman throws herself into every aspect of the role.
It's obviously a difficult role, but Huffman makes it look easy. And while she might not deserve the Oscar she could very well receive come March, she certainly deserves the alpha-Housewife status she'll get because of it. (Alliance Atlantis)