Being comfortable in your own skin

July 13, 2006 at 9:34 pm 11 comments

Finally, after months of waiting, I had the chance to see TransAmerica.  I have wanted to watch this movie because I love Felicity Huffman as Lynette in Desperate Housewives.  Then I’ve heard so much hype about the film and the more I got interested.

TransAmerica is about a transgendered person, formerly known as Stanley, and then later on went by the name Bree.  She was about to have the final operation, which would make her a complete woman physically.  But just a few days before the “big day,” a son who she didn’t know existed called looking for his father.  She tried not to get emotional and forget about what she discovered, but she became a wreck.  Her psychologist wouldn’t let her have the operation until she met the boy and resolved her feelings.  She bailed the 17-year old delinquent out of jail, planned to return him home to his family but there was more to it than she thought.  And she got involved with his life. 

They traveled together through the roads of America as Bree tried to make it back to L.A. for her operation.  I think the road trip was a representation of their journey in trying to discover themselves.  Toby wasn’t sure yet what he wanted in life.  Bree was sure she wanted to be a woman but doubted herself if she could be a parent to Toby.  She tried.  It was rough at first but later on they learned not only about each other, but also to respect each other.  Respect was one thing that Bree longed for in her life. 

This story is not just about the transgendered Bree, but her struggle to be “seen” by the people she loved and how she learned to be comfortable in her own skin.  I think that’s a subject that anybody can easily relate to, whether you’re a man, woman, gay, lesbian, or transsexual. 

There was a scene when Bree was in a restaurant and a little girl asked, “Are you a boy or a girl?”  She freaked out.  She thought that this girl saw through her.  I don’t personally know any transsexual but that must be what they look like, neither a boy nor a girl.   

I think Felicity Huffman did a good job in transforming into the character of Bree.  She sported a black wig in the film and she worked hard to lower her voice.  (I’m not too crazy about the voice, though.)  I didn’t associate her at all with her famous blonde character Lynette in Desperate Housewives.  I think she did a great performance.  Although some may think that the producers should have cast a male actor instead of a female one.  Señor Enrique even pointed out that Hilary Swank was very believable as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry because the character was actually female.  On the other hand, I think Felicity was also believable.  It’s probably just my female point of view.  I guess it would be hard to tell if it would be more believable if a male actor played the role unless we see another movie about a transsexual played by a male actor.

I think it was a good movie.  There were funny moments too.  And as I’ve said before, I don’t have any problems with gays and lesbians.  I know a few and they are good and kind-hearted people. I don’t know any transsexuals, but I understand that being transgendered is associated with a disorder.  I won’t look down upon them because they are human too.


Entry filed under: Books, movies, music, TV.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jane  |  July 14, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    same here, I don’t have problems with gay or lesbians. it’s not as if it was their choice to be born a male but feels like a woman deep down inside and vice versa.

    i’ll try that movie when I have a spare time 😉

  • 2. Eric  |  July 14, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    Unarguably, Transamerica was a good script. I grew up on mainstream Hollywood films but as I got older began to favor (and even seek out) independent films with avant-garde and/or untreaded themes (at various film festivals in NYC). And I’m glad Hollywood eventually started funding/distributing films in which only foreign filmmakers were audacious enough to tackle in the past.

    I’m also aware of the rare supply of quality scripts available for female lead roles in Hollywood; however, in Transamerica, if Stanley/Bree’s character had already undergone complete transformation as a female, it would make Ms. Huffman more believable (for me, at least). As it was she seemed stiff; as if she was trying a bit too hard. Or was it her way of trying to appear indifferent to her son’s problems because she had enough of her own with her own parents?

    Another issue I have with the film is what I personally refer to as the “blackface syndrome” in America’s entertainment industry. Al Jolson, a white Jew, might have made millions playing a black character, or a string of white actors got jobs for playing Charlie Chan, a fictional Hawaiian-Chinese detective, but such miscast at this time and age will only diminish the role’s believability factor. Unless, of course, it was a parody as in Murder by Death in which Peter Sellers did a hilarious job as Charlie Chan.

    I’m not gonna go so far as suggest the role of Stanley/Bree played by Ms. Huffman should have gone to a transgender actor. I’m merely saying a male actor should have been cast for it since most of the movie dealt with Stanley/Bree’s character prior to completing her transformation as a woman.

    However, if this story is really “not just about the transgendered Bree, but her struggle to be ‘seen’ by the people she loved and how she learned to be comfortable in her own skin,” then allow me to admit that I completely missed it. I was too focused on Ms. Huffman playing a role of a man. My fault then. 🙂

  • 3. niceheart  |  July 14, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    We have the same way of thinking, Jane.

    Thanks for the input, Eric. I don’t think it’s any fault of yours that you missed that part where Bree said that she just wanted to be seen by the people she loved. I guess that’s one thing that women are different from men. I think women tend to focus more on the emotional sides of the character. At least for me the female character. I’m sure you can relate to the emotional sides of male characters as well. I see Bree in this story as more of a female character and I can relate to her emotions. That’s why I said it’s not just about a story about a transsexual but her journey in life. I guess that’s what I thought of in my trying to find out why the movie was titled so – trans for transgender, or trans as in transatlantic or the transcanada highway, both related to travel or journey.

    As for Bree’s being stiff. I think that’s part of her character. She may be a transgender but she’s also conservative. She’s like an old rigid spinster.

    Unlike you, I’m not really well-versed in mainstream Hollywood films or independent films. I just want to watch my movies to be entertained and once in a while write about them if I have strong feelings about them. But it’s nice to hear somebody else’s opinions and I really enjoy this exchange of ideas. 🙂

  • 4. Eric  |  July 15, 2006 at 12:32 am

    Point well taken, Irene. 🙂

  • 5. mmy-lei  |  July 15, 2006 at 7:26 am

    i have gays and lesbians friends and i dont condemn them. I’m more at ease with gays esp. during mountain climbing.

    when i was working in bangkok, the government welcome their transsexual people esp. the succesful one. i had an officemate there who told me about her operation and how her officemates welcome her to the point that she was allowed to use ladies comfort room after an operation.

    there’s more stories about transsexualism in bangkok and one of them is recognition based on my experience in my workplace. maybe i’ll blog it one of these days.

  • 6. domestic rat  |  July 15, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Glad you finally watched this movie. This clearly is one of my favourites but not those that I can watch over and watch again.

  • 7. niceheart  |  July 15, 2006 at 10:56 pm

    That’s good to hear, mmy-lei that Bangkok is very accepting.

    Yes, DR, finally came out on DVD. I’m too cheap to go to the theatres. 🙂 I only go occasionally.

  • 8. Hsin  |  July 16, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Will have to try this movie one of these days. I do know a transgender person, and the whole process from self-discovery to actually acting on it is harrowing journey without even considering the reactions from the loved ones. It’s getting them to know and accept this that becomes the greatest barrier to choosing to live honestly. I salute this person I know, for all the physical and emotional burdens she’s had to bear and for all that she will continue to have to bear.

  • 9. niceheart  |  July 16, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    I can just imagine the emotions they go through, Hsin. There was this transgendered person who wrote a book about her experience and she was on Oprah, I think her name is Jenny. She said that even as a little boy, he/she knew that she was in the wrong body. She tried to deny it but she ended up cross-dressing. She/He even got married to a wonderful lady and they had a son. But she couldn’t bear it anymore and went ahead with the operation.

  • 10. Rey  |  July 18, 2006 at 12:55 am

    i’ve watched this movie while it was hot in the oscars, so with ‘Walk the line’ and ‘Capote’.

    Actually it’s a very good film. Not as good as Capote but nonetheless, it was a good view. and your review is quite impressive.

    It could have been perfect if they cast a real guy for the role instead of a guy. As I said before in one blog, Felicity may have the bones and ‘look’ of a gay man but she is not. I know that the movie’s purpose was to delight us, but it would be better if they wowed us with a real man looking really like a transvistite. Since we go to the movies to be awed, not to be lied about. 🙂

  • 11. niceheart  |  July 18, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you for the compliments, Rey. You do have a very good point and I respect everybody’s opinion.

    But I think it’s not being lied about, it’s about being convinced. And in a way, isn’t (fiction) movies about being lied about? It’s about acting after all. 🙂


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