Director: Jane Anderson
Screenwriters: Jane Anderson

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Happily married pillars of the community Irma and Roy have shared a wholesome, apple-pie kind of life in small-town Illinois for 25 years. Beyond appearances, however, things are not quite right. For most of his life, Roy has lived with a secret: He was born into the wrong body. His revelation that he can no longer live the charade of life as a man leaves his family stunned and bewildered.

Tracing the highlights of Roy's metamorphosis—both the gradual physical changes and the subtle social adjustments at work, church, and family gatherings—the film conveys the family's struggle to survive an emotional high-wire act performed in view of the entire town. Irma juggles anger, confusion, and an unflagging love for the man she married, while 13-year-old Patty Ann bluntly asks the questions on everyone's mind. Most explosive is the reaction of their grown son, Wayne, whose annual holiday visit threatens to destroy the delicate threads of compassion barely holding the family together.

In a story that could easily have descended into camp, tragedy, or melodrama, writer/director Jane Anderson expertly navigates tough emotional terrain with humor, warmth, and sensitivity. A standout cast, including Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson, shines in this intimate tale illuminating the durability of family ties.

— Elizabeth Richardson

Screening Details

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