The closing gala film of the B.F.I. Flare LGBT film festival was an inspired choice and a fitting end to a spectacular program with a wide range of films including the premiere of Lilting with Ben Whishaw and James Franco’s intriguing Interior Leather Bar. The festival attracted huge audiences, great acclaim and was sponsored by big names such as American Airlines, showing how industry now has a commitment to supporting LGBT people.
The choice of closing film was a radical one as 52 Tuesdays focuses on a subject that is often ignored and rarely portrayed: female to male transgender transition.
16-year-old Billie’s (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother (Del Herbert-James) reveals plans to gender transition and their time together becomes limited to Tuesday afternoons. Filmed over the course of a year, once a week, every week – only on Tuesdays – these unique filmmaking rules bring a rare authenticity to this emotionally charged exploration of desire, responsibility and transformation.
The film is beautiful rendered and is at times touching, hilariously funny and thought provoking. The theme of gender and sexuality is explored in a way that isn’t preachy or clumsy but instead is an integral part of a fascinating human story. Billie’s explorations and experiments with sex and sexuality are both moving and cringe-worthy. James’ difficulties with transitioning are convincingly played out and make the viewer question the need for gender labels. The overwhelming acceptance of James by his family is uplifting and the film leaves the viewer feeling optimistic that the complex issues and deep prejudices facing the trans community may one day become easier.