WE must accept the unstated reasons for Jane’s (Del Herbert-Jane, in real life reportedly non-gender conforming) decision to undergo the discomfort and risk of becoming James because “52 Tuesdays” is equally about the effect it’s going to have on Jane’s 16-year-old daughter Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey).
When Jane moves out of the family’s Adelaide home, she and Billie agree for the next year to reserve six hours every Tuesday for parent-child time. That’s a lot of information to fit into 109 minutes. First-time director Sophie Hyde intercuts brief clips of unrelated events marking the passage of the year and Matthew Cormack’s screenplay creates time for Billie to explore her own burgeoning sexuality by embarking on a video-making project that’s risky because of child-pornography laws.
It’s a courageous film that fairly well rises above occasional production shortcomings that bring moments of discomfort because of their creative values rather than their content. But these don’t diminish its ability to confront the issue of gender transformation, which gets little real-world media attention.
The film’s real thrust is less about Jane/James’s travails with surgery and medication than the way her progress through the change process affects the mother/daughter relationship. The film presents them without embellishment. A mother’s gender change cannot change their fundamental emotional connection. We can leave the film optimistic about the future for two people who have survived powerful personal and shared stresses.