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Actors: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Andrea James, Danny Burstein
Bree is days away from a dream she has focused on for years - the completion of her gender reassignment surgery. Her plans come to grinding halt when she receives a call from New York and discovers she has a son and that he has been picked up by the police. Bree's closest friend and therapist, Margaret, tells Bree she has to deal with her past before she can move into her future. Reluctantly, Bree springs Toby from jail under the pretense that she's a missionary worker. Toby begs Bree to take him with her to Los Angeles, and so they set out, each hiding their true motives and identities.
Felicity Huffman deserves every award she's received for her outstanding performance in Transamerica, a small but rich movie about Bree--formerly Stanley--a pre-operative male-to-female transexual awaiting gender-reassignment surgery who learns she has a wayward teenage son named Toby. When her therapist (Elizabeth Peña, Jacob's Ladder) strongarms Bree into facing her past, she bails Toby (Kevin Zegers, Dawn of the Dead) out of jail and they end up on a road trip across the country. Such a premise could feel forced, but the script and performances make it persuasive and natural. Bree wrestles with discomfort and compassion as she learns about Toby's own troubles, even while her own grow worse when she's forced to ask for help from her hostile parents (the superb Fionnula Flanagan, The Others, and Burt Young, Rocky). Transamerica doesn't push for any great catharsis, but instead slowly peels away the layers of Bree's defenses, laying bare her basic struggle for respect and a chance at happiness. In many ways it's a showy role, but Huffman (Desperate Housewives) keeps her acting simple, direct, and thoroughly compelling. --Bret Fetzer