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 strongarms Bree into facing her past, she bails Toby 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. 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. Insightful, poignant, and amusing look at the practical problems associated with transgender transition.