Once a week, every week, for a year, only on Tuesdays. This unique filmmaking rule was the genesis of 52 Tuesdays, an intricate drama by Sophie Hyde, member of the Adelaide-based filmmaking collective Closer Productions. Shooting with a cast of non-actors, Hyde and her collaborators have crafted a poignant consideration of identity and sexuality and a relevant coming of age story. The winner of the World Dramatic Directing Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and of a Crystal Bear at the Berlinale, 52 Tuesdays is the must see Australian film for 2014, and is guaranteed to make you think.
One Tuesday afternoon, 16 year old Billie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) comes home from school, to discover her mother Jane (Del Herbert-Jane) plans to gender transition. For one year their time together will be limited to a mere six hours a week, every Tuesday afternoon. Although seemingly comfortable with her mother’s choice, Billie soon begins a journey of her own, wrestling with complex ideas of sexuality and identity that bring her closer to two older classmates. While the subject of gender transition contributes an additional dimension to the film, at its core 52 Tuesdays grapples with the question of what it means to truly express oneself, and explores the struggle many people experience while attempting to live authentic lives.
Hyde’s Tuesday rule bleeds a documentary feel into the film, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. Coupled with outstanding raw performances from the entire cast, the film makes you feel like real life is unfolding in front of you when in fact, the film’s story is entirely fiction. Most impressive is Cobham-Hervey’s performance as Billie. Trained in dance theatre and circus performance with no prior acting experience, the actress has an incredibly natural on-screen presence and brings an extraordinary sincerity and vulnerability to Billie that makes her a character you’ll want to spend time with, even after the credits have finished rolling.
52 TUESDAYS is a film that truly dispels the ‘Australian movies are bad’ myth that seems to have plagued our generation. What Hyde has beautifully handmade is a topical, authentic film that is sure to spark some interesting conversations.
52 Tuesdays is screening exclusively from 1 May at Cinema Nova.