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Good performances, abhorrent characters, disjointed narrative
Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a sixteen-year-old school student. Her mother (Del Herbert-Jane) announces plans to undergo gender transition. More significantly, she forces Billie out of the house and Billie must live solely with her father. Her contact with her mother is restricted to Tuesdays after school. This upsets Billie, who decides to keep a video diary.
52 TUESDAYS is less about gender transition and more about neglecting a child. Whatever turmoil the mother faces with gender change should be secondary to her responsibility as a parent. But her daughter's not as important to her and she unfairly forces her out of her own home, while allowing the older brother to stay. Billie, unsupervised, experiments sexually with two older students, videotaping the explicit experiences.
Apart from the fine performances from the actors, all of them first-timers, there's not a lot to like in this rather bleak Australian film. The characters are obnoxious, they're the type of people I go to great lengths to avoid. Billie has no respect for others, the way she speaks to her father and opens her mother's mail. And her irresponsible mother clearly has no respect for Billie. The story has no direction, just one Tuesday after the next, the date presented as a title card over news footage of world events. Clever, but this constant interruption breaks the narrative flow and makes the film disjointed.
Sophie Hyde is the director. She produced the highly-amusing documentary SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! and it's a shame she can't bring some humour to this film, her first drama feature.
Films centred on gender transition are important and should be made. It's a very real issue affecting a lot of people. In 1999 we had Kimberly Peirce's excellent BOYS DON'T CRY, featuring a standout performance from Hilary Swank.
But 52 TUESDAYS, sadly in the tradition of so many other Australian films, is depressing, plodding, vulgar and aimless.
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