Transcending its playful experiment with form 52 Tuesdays is an intimate exploration of gender, sex and family…
Filmed over the course of a year, once every Tuesday, we follow the relationship between the 16 year old Billie and her mother (Jane) as she transitions from female to male. Newcomer Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays the role of Billie, delivering a début performance which instantly announces her as a major force within the latest fresh talent to sweep the film industry and opposite her stars Del who was brought on to the project as a consultant but who eventually made the leap into a starring role. One might wonder whether casting two newcomers as your leads is a risky choice, but here it pays off and only adds to the film’s experimental edge.
The first thing which grabs you about 52 Tuesdays is almost inevitably the method by which it was shot. Thankfully the film and its unusual shooting schedule harmonise rather than stand at odds to one another, resulting in it feeling less like a gimmick and instead lending the film an authoritative authenticity. Was it necessary to shoot it in this manner? No, but it certainly does it no harm and only serves to add interest value to the project. More controversial is the somewhat improvised manner in which the story developed; it’s very hard to pin such things down as an outsider but this free-wheeling style seems to have given the film a really distinctive spirit, however on the flip side to that Mario Späte’s supporting character feels pretty undefined and direction-less and one can’t help but wonder whether the approach taken to the material is partially responsible for that.Having said that the director (Sophie Hyde) and all of the actors are uniformly in great shape, each actor giving their role a depth and openness which is then lightly guided by a controlled directorial hand. We have two distinctive narratives here; one is a classic coming of age story that has been given a pleasing twist and the other is a story of enlightenment and discovering your one true self. These two stories both naturally involve processes of discover, fear, exhilaration and reflection and as they run side by side they are constantly fluxing between mirroring each other and running away from each other, each complicates and informs the other narrative in unexpected and exciting ways. The film is a bold one, playing with many different ideas and mixing them all together. Some elements are more effective than others, but the film is always at its strongest when it plays things small and close. It’s tenderest moments speaking volumes to both its characters and its audience.
I thoroughly recommend that you go and see 52 Tuesdays when the opportunity presents itself. It has slight flaws with its narrative which isn’t always as strong as it could be, but with its accomplished direction and Tilda Cobham-Hervey’s lead performance you are going to kick yourself for not seeing it when you have the chance. It’s rare that we get given as thoughtful and as measured a portrayal of familial bonds and coming of age, the fact that the film just so happens to also be an intelligent portrait of gender and gender identity on top of that only makes the film that much richer and more rewarding.
What is the film’s greatest strength? The bravery and ballsy-ness of the cast and crew in pulling off such a project.
Its greatest weakness? It’s narrative suffers occasionally.
Would I see it again? Certainly, I will be catching this one again when it hits shop shelves..
52 Tuesdays reaches British cinemas today. Will you be going to see it? Let us know in the comment box below!