No matter how close we are to someone, do we really know everything about them? How aware are we of all the pieces that make them a whole? In 52 Tuesdays, teenager Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) certainly thinks she is always on the ball. Somewhat precocious, she shares a happy home life with her mother, Jane (Del Herbert-Jane) and partyboy Uncle Harry (Mario Spate). When Jane reveals her desire to become a man, Billie is packed off to live with her father Tom (Beau Travis Williams) whilst Jane transitions into James; both mother and daughter agreeing that they’ll meet every Tuesday to spend some quality time together.
Directed by Sophie Hyde and co-written with Matthew Cormack, and filmed over the course of literally 52 Tuesdays, James and Billie are shown taking two different, but similar journeys to define themselves. Whilst James is building a new life for himself, Billie, initially supportive of him, begins to flounder and seeks some form of control in her own. This blossoms into an sexual exploration with two seniors at her high school, played by Imogen Archer and Sam Althuizen. Billie videos her exploits and explicitly positions them to fulfil her desire and curiosity. Whilst necessary to the film – we do need to know Billie is changing – these explorations are actually the weakest part of the film. This in part down the performances, which in one particular instance never really engage.
Much greater are the interactions between Billie and James. Both leads are superb with Herbert-Jane giving a particularly unforgettable performance. James is a rounded individual with a full life off screen. Like his daughter, he is caring and loving, but equally selfish and hotheaded. In short, he’s human.
And that’s what we took away from this film; it’s honesty. In real life, your gender or sexuality is not shorthand for who you are as a person. Our experiences define us and we often think those experiences open our eyes whilst others sit in the dark. It’s only through a willingness to discuss and share that we can even approach an understanding of what others are going through. One day a week is not the complete story.
Whilst we wished there could have been more emphasis on James’ story, 52 Tuesdays is an engaging drama with a human heart that’s strongly. We highly recommend it.