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52 TUESDAYS

SYNOPSIS:
16 year old Billie's (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother (Del Herbert-Jane) reveals plans to gender transition and their time together becomes limited to Tuesday afternoons.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Don't expect a series of 52 Tuesdays spent with Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and her mum Jane/James (Del Herbert-Jane). The film's titular promise is a bit misleading, if you want to be harsh, even though the film does count off the 52 Tuesdays of the year during which the story is set and indeed, shot. The filmmakers drew up a strict regime of shooting only on Tuesdays, consecutively - no reshoots - with a script but with some flexibility, blending documentary and narrative filmmaking styles.

And it's not just about those meetings per se. It's also about the context in which they take place over the 52 weeks. In some respects the film's artificial construct is like a railway line, taking us on our way but also a profound part of the journey. Time-marker snapshots of news events flash on screen before each Tuesday as if to say the world spins without these characters, oblivious to them. Billie even refers to how much happens in the world in a year.

Billie's relationship with her mother is deep and real; and it doesn't really change even if her mother's gender does. This throws up questions about the essentials of motherhood and what that means.

Billie's relationship with best friend Jasmine (Imogen Archer) is complex and fragile. Jasmine, too, has a mother 'issue' but she doesn't deal so easily with it. As girls on the threshold of adulthood, they relish the risks and ignore the dangers.

The best things about the film are its two central performances; raw, honest interpretations of characters well observed. Billie seems to readily accept her mum's decision to change her gender; she doesn't fire questions at her, and it's not until an hour into the film that we get a sense of why this decision was made. From here, the notion of gender transition is more to the front as Billie's mother goes to San Fransisco and meets a support group.

As the weeks go by and we see the subtle changes in the characters - and in Jane as she becomes James - we have time to reflect on the themes and issues raised by the film. My one reservation is a plot device at the end which feels arbitrary and unnecessary, involving Billie's dad, Tom, also superbly played, by Beau Travis Williams.

52 Tuesdays is certainly unique and that carries much creative weight; it also contains dramatic tension, but that is rationed and uneven - especially in the first half - so that it is a tad laboured as it develops. There is certainly much to explore and discuss.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

52 TUESDAYS (MA15+)
(Aust, 2013)

CAST: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Del Herbert-Jane, Mario Spate, Beau Travis Williams, Imogen Archer, Sam Althuizen, Danica Moors

PRODUCER: Bryan Mason, Matthew Cormack, Rebecca Summerton, Sophie Hyde

DIRECTOR: Sophie Hyde

SCRIPT: Matthew Cormack, Sophie Hyde

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bryan Mason

EDITOR: Bryan Mason

MUSIC: Benjamin Speed

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Vendetta Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 1, 2014







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