In the genre of ‘road movie’, Transamerica centres on Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman) who has finally been approved for gender reassignment surgery. Formerly known as Stanley Chupak, Bree must first resolve a problem from her past before her therapist Margaret (Elizabeth Pena) will allow the surgery to take place. Bree is contacted by her biological son, Toby Wilkins, a 17 year old jailed in New York for petty crimes and hustling.
Bree goes to Toby to bail him out, not disclosing her true identity and pretending to be a Christian social worker. The pair then travel to Los Angeles, where Toby intends to find work as a porn actor and seek out his biological father. The journey back is eventful with the exposure of secrets and various encounters. Bree secretly intends to leave Toby with his stepfather but when she discovers that Toby’s stepfather abused him as a child, her plans are foiled.
Bree makes it back in time for surgery, but her relationship with Toby breaks down and although she is happy with her surgery, she feels she failed in her attempt to resolve the past. At the end of the film, Toby comes round and the two reconcile.
“Impressively realized on all levels, this transgender spin on the road trip boasts an extraordinary central performance.”
–Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
“This debut feature left me in a state of movie euphoria. Who could have guessed that such a discomfiting premise would blossom into a deadpan-hilarious and yet deeply affecting story about a singular glitch in the human condition?”
–Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“The movie’s soul is with Huffman. Speaking in a low voice, her posture as stiff as her vocabulary, her eyes a pool of sadness and hope, she turns this small, resonant film into a cry from the heart.”
—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Bree was, and still is, an identifiable character in a movie that has aged well; credit for this lands solely in the lap of Felicity Huffman for her ability to turn a potentially clown-like depiction of a Trans woman into a loving mother doing the right thing for her son.”
Did You Know?
One of the taglines of Transamerica is “Life is a journey. Bring an open mind”. The initial idea for the film came from a conversation between director Duncan Tucker and his then roommate, actress Katherine Connella. Whilst discussing perceptions among males and females, Connella revealed to a surprised Duncan Tucker that she had been raised as a male, and so the beginnings of the plot were born. The film was co-written by Duncan Tucker and his producer William H. Macy. The song played over the closing credits, Travelin’ Thru was written and performed by Dolly Parton and nominated for an Academy Award. Review our Gay Themed Films here