VOD film review: 52 Tuesdays
Ivan Radford | On 20, Sep 2015
Director: Sophie Hyde
Cast: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Del Herbert-Jane
Watch 52 Tuesdays online in the UK: Amazon Prime / BFI Player / Curzon Home Cinema / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Transgender stories are beginning to appear more regularly in the mainstream media, from Amazon’s Transparent to a recent BBC documentary series. The response has been positive, heralding the groundbreaking presence of a previously underrepresented part of society. 52 Tuesdays is the kind of film that will help end that novelty; an understated, low-key look at an issue that affects many.
The tender drama follows Billie, whose mother decides that she will live her future life as a man. Billie is pushed away as part of this period of transition, but the pair agree that every Tuesday will continue to be a day for mother-daughter bonding – or, as time goes on, father-daughter bonding.
Del Herbert-Jane is fantastic as James, named Jane by his parents, surly and confrontational in his independence yet shy about revealing his new sexual partners to his daughter. Director Sophie Hyde shot the story chronologically, every Tuesday, for a year, and that lapsing of time off-screen conveys the change on-screen with visible momentum: we can see the differing appearance of James and Billie, as well as the evolving dynamic between them.
But Hyde’s presentation of the story is even bolder than that: rather than focus on James, she consciously zooms out to show both characters, spending as much (if not more) time with Billie’s own sexual growth. Her curiosity amplified by her dad’s unexpected life direction, she finds herself intrigued by an older couple at school, recording their encounters on a camera and, eventually, experimenting with them.
The further these scenes go on, the less convincing they become – would a pair at school really tolerate a young kid poking her lends at them? – but Tilda Cobham-Hervey’s superb performance is hugely effective, as she also matures, week by week, in front of us. When together, those shifting experiences in their own lives subtly ripple into their conversations. “Do I call you dad now?” Billie asks, half supportive, half confused. Then, later: “If you’re with a woman, are they lesbian?”
The result is a moving portrait of a family’s coming of age rather than one person’s journey. 52 Tuesdays is a story in which gender rather than trans is the centre of attention, an approach that helps to demystify what is often perceived as different, by framing it as just another part of the universal question of identity. Both James and his daughter are undergoing a period of transition. And, like all things, it takes time.
52 Tuesdays is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.