Roxy van der Post, Marketing Manager for Picturehouse at National Media Museum, reviews today’s Discover Tuesdays presentation.
Director: Sophie Hyde.
Starring: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Del Herbert-Jane. Australia 2013. 114 mins.
First-time director Sophie Hyde dares to take risks, hiring an entirely non-professional (“I prefer to call them previously unknown”, Hyde told The Guardian) cast for a low-budget project, filmed one day a week over the course of one year – giving them only their own lines for each week. But this unconventional approach to filmmaking has paid off, because the Australian indie 52 Tuesdays is a fascinating film.
“Once upon a time, I had a mum that told me everything”, says 16-year-old Billie (talented newcomer Tilda Cobham-Hervey) as she starts her video diary. But that was a year ago, and a lot can happen in one year. Things start to change when Billie’s mum, Jane (a brilliant Del Herbert-Jane), starts her gender transition and asks her daughter to move in with her father, Tom (Beau Travis Williams). For the following year, mother and daughter spend every Tuesday afternoon together.
While Billie’s mother, now going by the name of James, deals with complications in his transition, Billie goes on a journey of her own. Every Tuesday, before she returns home to her father, Billie secretly meets older students Josh (Sam Althuizen) and Jasmine (Imogen Archer). Their frank conversations about identity, gender and sexuality soon turn into sexual experiments – and everything is recorded on Billie’s video camera. Unware of the potential danger of the recordings, the three lose themselves in their secret escapist activities and become more isolated from their families.
52 Tuesdays poses many questions, some hidden beneath the surface and some addressed directly to the audience, cleverly woven into Billie and James’s video diaries. What does it mean to live an ‘authentic’ life? When do you feel most like yourself? This overarching theme of identity and gender fluidity touches every character – but James’s gender transition is not treated in the same way as Billie adopting a tomboy look, or uncle Harry’s feminine traits – thereby touching upon the classic nature versus nurture debate. As with all other debates and questions in the film, the audience is never forced in a particular direction. After all, gender isn’t the only fluid concept.
Tied in with the film is My 52 Tuesdays, an online project that asks one question every Tuesday and gives participants the option to share their answer with others worldwide. Find out more at http://my52tuesdays.com/my52tuesdays/.
Times+ members can discover stunning cinema by visiting www.ourscreen.com/discover
Every day MUBI’s in-house experts hand-pick a beautiful new film and you have 30 days to watch it. £4.99 a month with the first month free for Picturehouse customers. mubi.com/picturehouse