52 Tuesdays

2013

Drama

30
IMDb Rating 6.3 10 1,288

Synopsis


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English 2.0
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23.976 fps
114 min
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English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
114 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lisa_thatcher 7 / 10 / 10

Sophie Hyde and a fresh take on coming of age

The strength of 52 Tuesdays lies not in its documented revelations of a woman named Jane undergoing a transition over a 12 month period to be recognized as the man James, nor in the carefully examined complications of Billie and her coming of age story, but in the profound respect and dignity afforded the question of gender, the nuanced and detailed research and the delicacy and lightness of touch afforded subject matter that probes each one of us so deeply. The question of "gender assignment" is one that affects us all, because we engage in it habitually, thoughtlessly, on a continual basis. When you glance at any person and even most animals, your first response is without question to assign gender. Your decision about this will then determine how you communicate, how you judge, what you expect. 52 Tuesdays is a much-needed addition to the coming of age story, that turns the tables on the traditional idea of teen transformation, to look at transitioning that occurs between a mother and a daughter through the course of one year. Director Sophie Hyde filmed consecutively, the actors and crew met on Tuesdays to film, Matthew Cormack's script is written over the course of the year, usually each "Tuesday" is completed a couple of Tuesdays ahead of schedule, yet within an overall narrative framework. The film opens with Billie, (a 16 year old Tilda Cobham-Hervey) who is informed by her mother, Jane (Del Herbert-Jane) that she is to go and live with her dad, Beau Travis Williams for a year, because over the next twelve months Jane will be in transition from being identified as Jane to being identified as James. Billie and Jane decide to meet every Tuesday from four in the afternoon (after school) till ten at night to stay connected and to talk about the transitional process – if they feel like it. As Jane is working through her transition, Billie experiences one of her own in the company of two older students, Jasmine, (Imogen Archer) and Josh, (Sam Althuizen) with whom she begins to explore her own sexuality and ideas of how that is manifest in her life. As Jane experiences complications, Billie experiences her mothers transition as a rejection of motherhood, and acts out in her own ways. Part of what makes 52 Tuesdays so fascinating is the use of film itself. As James transitions, he films himself weekly then shows this to Billie so that they can communicate about the changes occurring. But Billie is changing too, and she too decides to film herself experimenting sexually with her friends, clinging to the films she makes as a solid way of grounding her experience – and connecting with James. However, a sixteen year old filming herself and her friends having sex is not the same as the documented body image transformation James is experiencing. and trouble arises when Billie is confused by her families relationship to appearances. When her tapes are found by all concerned adults, they keep saying "what if this got out?" "What would people think?" and Billie responds with "How is this any different from the films you make?" Billie needs to learn societies judgments can be severe and can ruin people's lives, something she has only seen fought through the courage of her trans parent. Therefore, each Tuesday, we see the film being made, James' transition images and Billie's transition images, until the filming of change becomes its own form of oppression. Outside of its unusual subject matter, 52 Tuesdays is a beautifully made film, with the difficulties of relating to the people we love coupled with our acceptance of who they are within themselves as they express themselves openly. The actors are nonprofessionals with Tilda Cobham-Hervey putting in a wonderful performance as Billie and Del Herbert-Jane superb as James. Del began working on the film as a gender diversity consultant and eventually was invited to work as an actor on the film. Del identifies as a non gender conforming individual who believes that a binary male / female system is outmoded, and they're commitment to the flawless articulation of this position informs the entire film and makes it a repeat watching experience. Unlike so many films made these days, when you watch 52 Tuesdays, you are immersed in an experience of integrity that gives appropriate informed respect to its subject treatment and uses language in an engaged and open way. 52 Tuesdays is a wonderful film, definitely one as many people as possible should see and one that contributes in a very main stream approachable way the enormously important subject matter it treats.

Reviewed by tlau2820 4 / 10 / 10

Excellent independent film with strong performances and touches of humour

The basic storyline of '52 Tuesdays' is summarised by IMDb and Wikipedia, so I won't rephrase this yet another time. Viewers (like myself) might initially be skeptical of what appears to be a gimmick in the film - all the action takes place on Tuesdays - but after the first 5-10 minutes, it's clear that some Tuesdays are explicitly weighted more heavily than others, and the film is actually well organised and paced. In fact, the technical constraint of "every Tuesday" allows for novel kinds of intrigue to develop around the lives of the central characters, Billie and James. The substantial drama of the film revolves around parallel issues relating to gender and identity in the lives of James and Billie, both played by non-professional actors who are utterly convincing (Billie becomes especially interesting in the second half, and James is compelling throughout). There are still only a handful of widely-circulated films around transgender issues, and many focus either explicitly on discrimination or on "coming out" narratives, both of which are extremely important themes rarely considered by Hollywood. Nevertheless, one original feature of this film is its more subtle exploration of James' own sense of selfhood and intimacy, especially as the medical aspects of transitioning become more complex. The attention paid to shifting familial relationships (including some quite devastating interpersonal crises), as well as the subtle exploration of adolescent sexuality, make for many surprising turns and rewards as the film develops. The film also retains some humour at crucial moments, and benefits from a restrained use of soundtrack, so the drama never feels heavy handed. It's also worth noting that as an independent Australian film, certain cinematographic conventions may seem disorienting to viewers not familiar with this form of social realism. Nevertheless, this is not 'Snowtown' or 'Bad Boy Bubby' - '52 Tuesdays' does not exploit graphic sex or violence to shock its viewers, and keeps the focus on character development. Overall, very strongly recommended.

Reviewed by adrianrobertson1975 4 / 10 / 10

Good performances, abhorrent characters, disjointed narrative

Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a sixteen-year-old school student. Her mother (Del Herbert-Jane) announces plans to undergo gender transition. More significantly, she forces Billie out of the house and Billie must live solely with her father. Her contact with her mother is restricted to Tuesdays after school. This upsets Billie, who decides to keep a video diary. 52 TUESDAYS is less about gender transition and more about neglecting a child. Whatever turmoil the mother faces with gender change should be secondary to her responsibility as a parent. But her daughter's not as important to her and she unfairly forces her out of her own home, while allowing the older brother to stay. Billie, unsupervised, experiments sexually with two older students, videotaping the explicit experiences. Apart from the fine performances from the actors, all of them first-timers, there's not a lot to like in this rather bleak Australian film. The characters are obnoxious, they're the type of people I go to great lengths to avoid. Billie has no respect for others, the way she speaks to her father and opens her mother's mail. And her irresponsible mother clearly has no respect for Billie. The story has no direction, just one Tuesday after the next, the date presented as a title card over news footage of world events. Clever, but this constant interruption breaks the narrative flow and makes the film disjointed. Sophie Hyde is the director. She produced the highly-amusing documentary SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! and it's a shame she can't bring some humour to this film, her first drama feature. Films centred on gender transition are important and should be made. It's a very real issue affecting a lot of people. In 1999 we had Kimberly Peirce's excellent BOYS DON'T CRY, featuring a standout performance from Hilary Swank. But 52 TUESDAYS, sadly in the tradition of so many other Australian films, is depressing, plodding, vulgar and aimless.

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