The folks I saw Transamerica with are convinced that Felicity Huffman will win Best Actress. Deserving to win Best Actress and actually winning it are two different things. Still, I hope she does. The movie itself has clunky moments (although it is never dull like that steamed broccoli of films, Capote). The tone veers wildly from sexual farce to sexual abuse drama, the genre from road movie to homecoming tale. Through it all, Huffman’s prim pre-op tranny character ‘Bri provides the ballast.
A week before her surgery, ‘Bri gets a call from a young man claiming to be her son. Her therapist withholds permission for the surgery until the “alleged son” is met and reconciled with. The problem is, to admit that this hustling drug addict is her kid means admitting that she is a man. So instead she encourages his assumption that she’s a Christian missionary. Ha-ha.
This plot engine aside, and ignoring the implausibility of a level-four vegan car thief, the characters are well-drawn and the humor comes from who they are, not cheap jokes — which is the distinguishing anatomical difference between the lazy sit-com and the belly-busting comedy. Felicity Huffman delivers a few precise one-liners that are as funny as anything on a movie screen this year. Oscars for comedic performances are rare, so it’s lucky she also gets her fair share of drama in this movie. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.