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(Widescreen Edition)

With a tremendous, Oscar nominated performance by actress Felicity Huffman; TRANSAMERICA ($29) is a movie that certainly takes the tried and true concept of the cinematic road trip in a totally new direction. In TRANSAMERICA, Huffman (who looks nothing like the way she does on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) portrays preoperative male-to-female transsexual Bree Osbourne, who is given some shocking news just one week before her scheduled life transforming surgery. As it turns out, seventeen years ago, when Bree was still Stanley Schupak, Stanley had a brief affair with a woman, which resulted in the birth of a son.

Making matters worse is the fact that Stanley’s previously unknown offspring is in jail and Bree’s therapist won’t sign off on her final sexual reassignment surgery until she comes face-to-face with Stanley’s progeny. With no other choice, Bree travels to New York to bail Stanley’s son, Toby Wilkins (Kevin Zegers), out of jail. Although Bree initially hopes to stick some cash in Toby’s hand and walk away from Stanley’s responsibilities, the unlikely duo soon find themselves driving across the country on an oftentimes amusing and heartfelt journey of discover about themselves and each other. The terrific cast of TRANSAMERICA also features Fionnula Flanagan, Elizabeth Peña, Graham Greene, Burt Young and Carrie Preston.

The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment has made TRANSAMERICA available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Shot on a miniscule budget and utilizing the Super 16 process for principal photography, TRANSAMERICA is far from the best-looking DVD on the market. Still, there is nothing inherently wrong with the presentation, which actually makes TRANSAMERICA look better than its production history might suggest. The image is generally crisp and definition is better than one might expect. Of course, there is some softness, but it isn’t a problem. Colors are saturated at natural looking levels. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast is fine, as is shadow detail. Film grain is decidedly noticeable, but not excessive. Digital compression artifacts are fairly well contained.

TRANSAMERICA comes with a fairly subdued mix encoded into Digital 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital. As a talky drama, surround usage is fairly minimal, with the forward soundstage having the lion’s share of activity, but isn’t particularly flashy. Fidelity is pretty good, with the music sounding just fine. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Director Duncan Tucker is on hand to supply a running audio commentary. A Conversation With Duncan Tucker And Felicity Huffman is a nineteen-minute interview with the film’s director and lead actress, while A Conversation With Duncan Tucker And Kevin Zegers offers the director and male lead in a ten-minute interview. Next we have Dolly Parton’s music video Travelin' Thru and a Behind-The-Scenes featurette on the video. A Blooper Reel and Theatrical Trailer close out the supplements.

TRANSAMERICA is an amusing and emotionally resonating little movie that features an outstanding, Oscar nominated performance from Felicity Huffman. The presentation is quite nice for a low budget film, so there are no complaints in that area. If you haven’t seen TRANSAMERICA yet, then the DVD is a great way to experience the film for the first time. If you are a fan, you’ll want to add the disc to your collection. Recommended.



Transamerica (Widescreen Edition) (2005)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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