Films that have taken a long time coming often have the quality of a very devoted filmmaker shining through. Duncan Tucker first got the idea to Transamerica in the 90s after learning to know transsexual actress Katherina Connella. Years later, the film is ready - uneven and not free of children's diseases, but with loads of energy, honesty and passion.
Felicity Huffman is at the natural center of the film. Her performance is brave and unglamorous, but also ultimately nuanced. Obviously, this is a thankful role, but she solves the task better than expected. At times, her relationship with Kevin Zegers is poignant, but during the films first half, they have to work their way through some pretty conventional and uninspired material. The film's road movie part has its flaws, most of them in the form of lack of originality in the writing. But a handful fine moments keeps interest up - among them a fine, little scene featuring the brilliant Raynor Scheine (that weird guy from mid-90s films such as The War and Ace Ventura) and a very sincere and warm segment involving Graham Greene.
However, it's when our protagonists reach the house of the odd couple Fionolla Flanagan and Burt Young that Transamerica really lights up. During the next half-an-hour, Tucker presents some of the most inspired and delightful piece of film of the year. He combines absurdity and comedy with serious issues in wonderful fashion, and thrives from magnificent work by a pleasantly over-the-top Flanagan and a hilariously aloof Young. Add to that Carrie Preston as Huffman's little sister, and you're up for a real treat.
I liked the way Tucker wrapped things up. Providing the viewer with some answers, but also leaving a bit to the imagination. Although Transamerica treads familiar ground at times when it comes to plot, it has warmth, quirkiness and originality that makes it both pleasant and stimulating.