Felicity Huffman plays Bree, formerly Stanley, who, after years of therapy, surgery and hormone replacement, is one week away from undergoing the operation that will finally and definitively make her a woman. Out of the blue, a phone call comes revealing that Stanley fathered a son seventeen years ago. Bree’s therapist won’t let the surgery go ahead until Bree comes to terms with her past and her responsibilities. She travels to New York City to bail out Toby (Kevin Zegers), a street hustler… but keeps the true nature of their relationship a secret as they begin a cross-country journey back to LA.
On the one hand, the territory is familiar: the road movie with two characters at each other’s throats but who will grow closer, and all sorts of unusual encounters along the way. In fact, writer/director Duncan Tucker’s script might be a little bit too familiar when it comes to the broad arc of the plot. But where the script shines is in the character creation, most especially with Bree. And Felicity Huffman’s performance has been rightly praised. It is astonishing. She is utterly convincing. Her vocal transformation is not the least of the amazing feats here, and she disappears completely into the role.
The audio is pretty solid, though fans of the music might be a bit disappointed. This score is certainly crisp and clean enough, but has almost no rear speaker presence at all. On the other hand, the environmental effects are strong but subtle, insect and birdsong creating a nice sense of immersion without overwhelming the listener. The dialogue is generally clear, but does occasionally suffer from a bit of overmodulation.
The colours are strong and bright, and are the best aspect of the transfer. The image is nothing to sneeze at either, though, being nice and sharp. The grain, however, is very noticeable, though the other qualities of the picture balance this out. Furthermore, said grain is to be expected, since the film was shot in 16 mm. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Duncan Tucker’s commentary is just excellent. He is engaging, articulate, informative, and speaks with great eloquence about the film’s ideas. Great stuff. The other featurettes, are okay, but rather more ordinary by comparison. These consists of two conversations (imagine the interview snippets in most featurettes shown uninterrupted), one with Tucker and Huffman, the other with Tucker and Zegers. The music video for Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Through” is accompanied by a more traditional making-of featurette. There’s also a blooper reel and the theatrical trailer. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.
A strong film, made all the stronger by a stand-up-and-shout performance by its lead.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Conversations with Director Duncan Tucker, Felicity Huffman and Kevin Zegers
- “Travelin’ Through” Music Video
- Making-of “Travelin’ Through” Featurette
- Blooper Reel
- Theatrical Trailer