The closing night film of the 2014 Inside Out festival, 52 Tuesdays takes a unique filmmaking approach that succeeds in some ways and fails in others. Filmed over the course of a year on every Tuesday, using non-professional actors who received their scripts only on each day of shooting, and documenting the transition of a mother undergoing female-to-male gender reassignment surgery, 52 Tuesdays offers a rare insight into the effect this transformation has on a mother and daughter. Billie is 16 years old and her comfortable life living with her mother Jane takes a grand turn when Jane decides she wants to become a man, and that Billie should live with her father during this time of transition. Billie on the surface seems to cope with this change rather easily, but underneath her tough demeanour are confusion, rebellion and misunderstanding that she cannot expose to her family. As Jane transforms into James, Billie transforms into a new person as well, a girl who seems to have been forced into maturity from a young age, and who finally begins to act out among her very adult circumstances.
52 Tuesdays features realistic acting and it handles its often dark and compelling subject matter gracefully; however, the film often feels choppy and rushed, a factor unavoidable due to its cramming of 52 days into a just under a two-hour runtime. The ambition of the film is admirable, but the execution is sometimes muddled, with the motivations of its characters being understated and unexplained. The concept of the film is intriguing, but the style sounds better on paper than it feels on screen, making 52 Tuesdays lack the emotional impact that it strives for. The Australian film is led by newcomer Tilda Cobham-Hervey, who delivers a bold performance as Billie, and effectively shows her growth over the course of a year, from a young, innocent teenager, to a conflicted, rebellious and confused young woman. The cast is all around outstanding, making the film believable even when the plot feels a bit contrived. 52 Tuesdays seems to jam in controversial topics where it can with no real sense of belonging. The film tries hard to cover a grand scheme of themes and plotlines more for the sake of it then to really benefit the core story of a woman undergoing female-to-male gender reassignment. The film has its moments, but overall it hits too many false notes to feel as genuine as it wants to be.