BILLIE is a typical teenage girl searching for her independence. This process is accelerated when her mother, Jane, tells her that she is going to have gender reassignment surgery. During the transition Billie will live with her father and only see her mother on Tuesday afternoons.
Australian director Sophie Hyde and her co-writer Matthew Cormack have made a wonderfully touching film that looks at a family over the course of a year as they deal with some major life-changing events. The structure of the film, in the way it only occurs on Tuesdays, may seem familiar but is done here in a very unique way.
As someone who is not familiar with the details that come with gender reassignment surgery, I found this film very educational. While the main focus of the story is how Billie comes to terms with her sexual awakening and her mother’s transition, the film also gives equal time to James and his journey to becoming a man.
Not everything goes smoothly and it was interesting to see some of the complications that can arise. James is such a well-written character and feels so real and you come to understand him so well.
What I loved most about the film was seeing the way Billie’s sexual awakening was portrayed. We see this type of coming-of-age story in films all the time but here it is dealt with in what I felt was very different. Young viewers might be able to relate to the film if they are going through a similar situation.
I don’t think that there is a single bad performance in the film, but it is the two leads who naturally give the standout performances.
Tilda Cobham-Hervey is wonderful as Billie, who uses a video camera throughout the film as a way to document her struggle and at certain points she does straight-to-camera monologues about what she is going through. I think it is these moments where Tilda shines as we see her true emotions revealed.
Meanwhile, I felt Del Herbert-Jane’s portrayal of James was natural, in that he played himself, that helped add to the naturalism of the story. James feels so real that not for one minute do you think there is an actor on screen.
There seems to be a real surge in films about trans* people and 52 Tuesdays only adds to the greatness of this theme.