Newcomer Sophie Hyde’s compelling 52 Tuesdays illustrates the inner turmoil experienced by trouble teenager Billie (Tilda Cobahm-Hervey), who, like any adolescent teenager, is discovering herself. Yet before she knows it, the predetermined path to adulthood is forced upon her at an alarming rate. As her mother takes the plunge and proceeds with the initial steps towards transitioning into a man, from Jane to James (Del-Herbert Jane), Billie is required to live with her hipster father, whilst only allowed to spend time with her mother on Tuesday evenings.
From the get go, 52 Tuesdays is a distinctively indie picture, combining raw cinematic elements with documentary-style video diaries kept by both mother and daughter. As we are frequently addressed directly (although at times unnecessarily) through convoluted diary entries from Billie, we quickly begin to see how much her mother’s decision is affecting her. This isn’t so much a film about a gender-transitioning mother, as much as it’s about how the child involved is impacted.
We are given a lot to chew on as every Tuesday flashes across the screen rapidly. Any sort of dynamic between our protagonists that is established, becomes uprooted, resulting in outrageous and selfish outbursts that Billie can’t seem to shake. As a clear cry for help, she becomes infatuated with an older couple – Josh and Jasmine – documenting their every move; their drinking, drug abuse and sexual encounters, becoming a form of escapism for her.
Invariably experimenting with the couple, Hyde cleverly incorporates the use of technology as Billie’s obsession utterly consumes her, pulling her in deeper, suppressing her true thoughts and feelings of what she’s going through. As Billie’s raunchy sex tapes juxtapose the tame daily snippets her mother records of her gradual transformation, such devices enhance the simple fact that both characters are evolving and thus moving in two entirely different directions. If this wasn’t a dysfunctional family to begin with, as the story develops it becomes both heartbreaking and frustrating. Not to mention the rather over the top relationship Billie has with her uncle Harry, who is clearly dealing with a gender crisis of his own.
There is no doubt that 52 Tuesdays is an incredibly powerful tale that sheds light on subjects that are currently consuming the public eye. On one hand a beautifully flawed representation of human behaviour, but on the other a disjointed coming of age indie-flick, it is somewhat disappointing that the main plot is intertwined with comedic moments however, as writer Matthew Cormack appears torn between genres. Such moments fail to fully offer any comic relief in an otherwise on point and heavy narrative.