Irish Film Institute -Transamerica




‘Desperate Housewives’ regular Felicity Huffman gets a celluloid showcase with her Oscar-worthy performance as a pre-op male transsexual challenged by the revelation that she fathered a teenage son during a long-forgotten liaison during her college years. With just a week to go before she has her big operation, her psychiatrist refuses to sign her obligatory consent form until she resolves her relationship from the past, which explains how she subsequently ends up driving Kevin Zegers’ teenage hustler across country under the pretence she’s a Christian missionary saving his soul from the detention centre. ‘I’m not his mother’ is her stock response as the two make their way through a succession of road-movie encounters and tribulations, but they can hardly discover what they really mean to each other until the difficult matter of the truth gets a proper airing.

Huffman truly makes you believe that she’s playing a man trying to pass as a woman, her upright bearing and high-necked wardrobe betraying an idea of femininity seemingly derived from a diet of too many old Katherine Hepburn movies. Not only does her future hang on whether she’ll be able to resolve things with this troubled youth, but having to maintain her female poise in the cowboy-infested mid-west presents a daily test to her identity-in-the-making. Although writer-director Duncan Tucker’s witty and engaging indie debut occasionally errs towards earnestness, Huffman’s marvellously insightful and accomplished contribution guides the movie to a genuinely touching emotional pay-off. An unexpected delight.—Trevor Johnston.

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