The premise of 52 Tuesdays – Sophia Hyde’s directorial debut – is interesting. It’s a film showing every Tuesday during one year in the life of an increasingly estranged family (hence the title).
The family in question consists of James, a transgender man beginning his transition to live fully an a man; his daughter Billie who’s a rebellious and sexually curious teenager with a video camera; and a largely distant father who has a beard. Oh, and Charlie, a sexually ambiguous brother/uncle/party boy.
The plot is diffuse owing to the once-weekly format of the story. However the viewer can’t help feeling that, as the story wears on, the narrative has become a little lost and tangled up in itself. Shifting focus from what would, perhaps, have been the stronger, more rewarding story (that of James’ female-to-male transition, the effects and challenges this brings both for him and his family), it moves instead to Billie’s teenage sexual rebellion and exploration.
Filmed over the course of a year with the script written between shoot days, there’s a definite feeling of a story that evolved with the characters. While that’s interesting, one can’t help but think a tighter narrative scope would have served the audience a richer story. There’s a point about two-thirds of the way through the film where, during an argument, Billie makes reference to James’ transition, asking, ‘Oh, are you still doing that?’ and it’s as valid a question for the audience as it is for his character.
Hyde’s decision to use largely untrained actors in her cast is a brave one, but one that pays off – there are no weak links: Del Herbert-Jane’s conflicted and internalised James struggles valiantly to express to his teenage daughter the turmoil and upheaval he’s going through as part of his transitional journey. Tilda Cobham-Hervey’s messy and angsty Billie, meanwhile, is utterly convincing and at times entrancing. There’s an abundance of acting talent throughout and I would be surprised if 52 Tuesdays wasn’t the beginning of several illustrious careers.
Overall Verdict: I really wanted to like this one. It’s ambitious, sexy and touches on important issues including family, identity, sexuality and expression. And therein lies the problem: If anything, it’s too ambitious and touches lightly upon too many issues, all of which could benefit from more focussed, deeper exploration.
Reviewer: Scott Elliott