directed by Duncan Tucker
(IFC, 2005)

Bree, a.k.a. Stanley (Felicity Huffmann), is in the final stages of switching from being a man to being the woman she always felt she was. Then, Fate sends her on quite a detour, as she finds out she fathered a son 17 years ago. Toby (Kevin Zegers) is in a juvenile detention facility for prostitution and possession of illegal substances. Bree's therapist insists Bree address this surprise before having her final surgery, so Bree heads to New York to bail her son out of jail.

This premise could have been done as a comedy or a farce, as the badly-chosen cover design suggests, or it could have ended up as outrageous melodrama. The acting of Zegers and Huffman, plus stellar supporting performances from Bert Young (Bree's easygoing father), Fionnula Flannagan (Bree's perfectionistic, proper, loving, controlling mother) and Elizabeth Pena (Bree's therapist), and even the small part by Graham Greene (a Good Samaritan), all make this into a strange but very well-told tale.

Bree ends up looking as if she were almost certain of her decision to finish the transgender process, with that "almost" being a crucial factor. Her cross-country journey with Toby helps both of them figure themselves out. Toby is perfectly portrayed as a tough, jaded, anything-for-money, I-don't-care kid who is a miserable little boy inside, trying to avoid being hurt any more than he has been, and thus cutting himself off from any chance at real happiness. But, he does some growing, too.

Felicity Huffman will get lots of attention, and maybe an Oscar, for this thoughtful, avant-garde performance. Kevin Zegers is even better in this film. Wow.

by Chris McCallister
15 April 2006