52 Tuesdays

20 / 06 / 2014

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We’re delighted that Karen Pickering is taking over the ‘Culture Club’ helm and will be contributing regularly to this section. Very exciting! This month, Karen talks gender, identity and feminism in reflecting on Australian director Sophie Hyde’s new film 52 Tuesdays. Check out the official trailer here.

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When I saw 52 Tuesdays at the cinema, the shorts preceding the film were all promoting Australian features: The Rover, The Babadook and Galore. They are all, in their different ways, coming of age stories. The Rover stars British heartthrob, Robert Pattinson, in a role that looks to demand much more of him than previous ones, as the anchor of another dark, disturbing story from Animal Kingdom director, David Michod. The Babadook is a horror movie that has something in common with the hit novel and film, We Need To Talk About Kevin, in that a child becomes a source of fear and menace for a mother who simply doesn’t know what to believe. Galore is almost like a Puberty Blues for a new generation, with shades of Lantana and Somersault, set in Canberra and placing a teenage drama within the wider trauma of encroaching bushfires around the national capital. 52 Tuesdays alone among them allows the central character to tell her own story, intermittently direct to camera, with a directorial hand that privileges Billie’s perspective. Allowing a teenaged girl to speak for herself, and exercise power over her own story, is a powerful feminist gesture.

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Billie is a curious, complex individual who experiences the world around her as a place of possibility and wonder, though seemingly always at a distance and not without reason. We find out that she documents her life and emotions with a video diary, and by filming what she sees as significant events in her life, including early sexual encounters with two school mates. That she also directs these events and produces a narrative of them as they unfold is an interesting reference to the way in which young people use social media and new technology to tell their own stories, craft their image and explore different identities.

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Experiencing another form of identity in flux is Billie’s mum, who asks her daughter to live with her father, Tom, for a year while he begins his transition from Jane to James. This narrative arc also provides the unusual structure of the film, as they agree to spend every Tuesday afternoon together, instead of sharing the same home for the year. Fifty-two times they must stop everything else and put each other first, if even to sit quietly, share a meal, or just exist in the same space. It’s not a spoiler to say that they don’t quite manage that, but the structure is used by the director and co-writer, Sophie Hyde, to create genuine tension and emotional involvement with these characters, something I genuinely thought the conceit might prevent. The makers also agreed to only film on location in Adelaide every Tuesday afternoon over one year, giving the film an authenticity and gravity that might be lacking if this was rushed or faked. It’s a clever idea, executed well, with minimal use of cliches like montage or voiceover, and incredibly strong central performances.

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It’s a gorgeous-looking film, with a gentle rhythm and perfectly judged pacing, and the terrific ensemble cast often transports us so completely to these family dynamics and friendships, that it sometimes feels almost like a documentary (with an occasional lapse into after-school-special territory). Tilda Cobham-Hervey shines as Billie, in her first film role – one that will almost certainly catapult her into others. And the naturalism of Del Herbert-Jane as her mum, James, meant that the relationship was utterly believable despite the internal upheaval being experienced by the characters.

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opciones binarias ya.com But the most impressive thing about the film, I think, was its deftness of touch in depicting a trans character (played by a gender-fluid actor) as a whole human being, with exactly the same challenges as anyone else – a ratbag younger brother who won’t grow up and relies on her for stability, a sexually precocious daughter who plays up at school, resulting in a trip to the principal’s office, and negotiating the care and responsibility for a shared child with an ex-partner. These are all familiar tropes of “family drama” but centering on an unconventional family unit, without ever sensationalising or essentialising them, is an impressive achievement for the first-time director of a feature film. It’s also an important step to broader public understanding of gender affirmation and gender fluidity, as pop culture so often plays this role of educating and facilitating open dialogue.

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تداول العملات الأجنبية الحية Sophie Hyde has also overcome major obstacles to getting a feature film made in Australia, just by virtue of finding a distributor and getting the picture screened at festivals overseas. Not only because Australian film is underfunded and undervalued by state and federal governments, but because here as elsewhere, it’s overwhelmingly dominated by male directors (often telling male stories). And that tour of the international festival circuit paid off big time – 52 Tuesdays won the Crystal Bear from the youth jury at the Berlinale and the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance. I love seeing stories like this told by women, about women and girls, with a feminist sensibility. So let’s hope that Hyde continues to tell stories on the big screen that speak to broader cultural shifts in our public life, and reflect our culture back at us in thoughtful, beautiful ways.

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