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Of her personal connection to the film, its director Sophie Hyde said: "Despite being made in an intensely collaborative way, the film is also highly personal for me. I draw on my own experiences with my parents and the push and pull I had with them as they tried to assert their own versions of themselves, while being my folks. I also draw on my relationship with my child, and how I continue to question, rally against and relish in this difficult, wonderful dynamic." See more »
I had a sinking but familiar feeling halfway through 52 Tuesdays, a feeling that I had had while watching Mike Mills 'Beginners'. In both films a child deals with their parents coming out late in life. In Beginners, it's an adult man learning that his father is gay, in 52 Tuesdays it's a teenage girl learning her mother is transitioning into a man and now wants to be known as James. In both films, the more interesting of the story lines, belonging to the parents who are going through an incredibly tumultuous time, is sidelined in favour of the narrative of the children which is much more conventional and less interesting.
52 Tuesdays starts out with an interesting gimmick; teenage Billie is abruptly informed by her father that she will now be living with him, leaving behind the cosy bungalow home where she lives with her mother and uncle. Billie can't believe this is true but it is soon confirmed by her mother, who reveals that she is going to be transitioning into a man and needs some time to himself to adapt to his new life. Despite the fact that she is clearly hurt, Billie shifts right away into trying to accept her mother's new state of being. Despite her mother's vague wishy- washy plans, Billie sets out a schedule that involves them seeing each other every Tuesday for six hours and she accompanies her mother to therapy sessions and applauds him as he gets his first testosterone injections. But Billie clearly has some deep pain related to the transition and she chooses to let it out by playing voyeur with two older kids who make out in a closet at school. Her mother's rejection of her pushes her to finally introduce herself to these kids and it isn't long before she's interviewing them about their sexual experiences while experimenting with them herself.
The film is set up in 52 segments and was filmed over 52 weekends but while this is an interesting and at times effective filming technique it also has severe limitations. We get snip its of James's life and how hard it is for him as he faces setbacks in his transitioning but we are also missing large chunks of his story that show his point of view. Billie is also somewhat of a boring character and some of her actions, especially towards her so called friends, are borderline sociopathic, especially towards the end as she invades their boundaries and treats them abhorrently, something the narrative ultimately tries to justify.
It's really too bad because the film had an interesting concept and the stories it is trying to tell are ones that are too often unseen in cinema, but ultimately this movie feels like a shadow of what it could have been.
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