A sweet-natured comedy about the problems of being a heterosexual transvestite, JUST LIKE A WOMAN is the polar opposite of defiantly campy cross-dressing movies like THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT or LA CAGE AUX FOLLES: it's modest, tasteful, and fundamentally
conservative (without being censorious) at heart.
The life of London-based American investment banker Gerald Tilson (Adrian Pasdar) is a virtual advertisement for middle-class family values. He's handsome and moderately successful, has a lovely wife and two adorable children, and lives in a comfortable, well-appointed home. Gerald's life takes a
dramatic turn for the worse when the family comes back early from a vacation without him; getting wind of their imminent return, he rushes home to conceal the evidence of his deep dark secret--transvestitism--but is too late. He arrives to find that his wife, surrounded by unfamiliar lingerie,
jewelry, and cosmetics, has come to the inevitable conclusion. Too mortified to tell her the truth, Gerald allows her to believe he's been unfaithful, agrees to a divorce, and moves out.
He rents a room from Monica (Julie Walters), a plain, disillusioned divorcee in her 40s, and the two strike up a warm friendship. Monica wants more from their relationship, but she's puzzled and put off by the tall, elaborately dressed woman she's seen letting herself into Gerald's room. It's
only after they've become lovers that Gerald reveals the awful truth. Monica, who's too sensible a woman to let the odd pair of frilly knickers come between herself and a man of such evident virtues as Gerald, has a good laugh about it all and tells him to stop worrying. They begin socializing at
transvestite clubs, where they meet other couples like themselves, and seem on their way to bourgeois contentment when disaster strikes a second time. Gerald, in drag, is pulled over by the police for speeding; they arrest him for soliciting and the scandal costs him his job. But Gerald stumbles
on to a crooked business deal unfolding at his old firm, foils it with Monica's help (and a pair of high heels), and the two live happily ever after.
While movies about cross-dressing are almost invariably about gay men, JUST LIKE A WOMAN--based on the autobiographical book Geraldine, by Monica Jay--reflects the apparent truth of the matter: that most transvestites are straight men with a thing for women's clothing, ranging from the
conservative fellow who wears ladies' panties under his business suit to the flamboyant one who ventures out in full drag. JUST LIKE A WOMAN is weakest when it strays into banking intrigue and Japanophobia, matters best left to high tech thrillers like RISING SUN. Its strengths lie mostly in a
quirky story, straightforwardly told, and the solid, restrained performances of Adrian Pasdar and Julie Walters in the lead roles.
Walters' role is the more conventional. Her Monica is reasonable, open-minded, and level-headed enough to see things in their proper perspective: Gerald, after all, is a catch--young, nice, handsome, and successful--and every man has his quirks. The movie's surprise is darkly handsome Pasdar,
whose previous credits include TOP GUN and NEAR DARK. As Gerald/Geraldine, he delivers an assured, understated performance that is as free of sentimentality as it is of camp mannerisms. JUST LIKE A WOMAN is a small, personal drama with an appealingly light touch, and if it's sometimes undermined
by its evident determination to demonstrate that transvestites are just regular people under the lipstick and mascara, it's a relatively minor flaw. (Sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: A sweet-natured comedy about the problems of being a heterosexual transvestite, JUST LIKE A WOMAN is the polar opposite of defiantly campy cross-dressing movies like THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT or LA CAGE AUX FOLLES: it's modest, taste… (more)