Anything’s Possible (2022) ☆☆☆(3/4): The conventional romance of a transgender girl

Billy Porter’s debut feature film “Anything’s Possible”, which was released on Amazon Prime in last week, is a conventional coming-of-age romantic comedy revolving around one transgender high school girl. While it is pretty safe and predictable in terms of story and characters, the movie deserves some attention as a mainstream product willingly and frankly presenting its adolescent transgender heroine on the screen, and it may open the door to more interesting transgender movies to come in the future.

At first, we are introduced to the daily life of Kelsa (Eva Reign), a plucky transgender high school girl living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Thanks to her supportive single mother Selene (Renée Elise Goldsberry), Kelsa has no problem with her sexual identity in addition to going through some necessary hormone treatment for that, and she even honestly talks everything about her sexual identity via her YouTube channel.

In case of her school life, most of her schoolmates have accepted her sexual identity without much problem, and she always can depend on the supportive friendship from her two best female friends Em (Courtnee Carter) and Chris (Kelly Lamor Wilson). Kelsa can talk anything with them whenever they can spend time together, and it seems that her only concern at present is where she can study after her high school graduation.

However, things become complicated when she happens to draw the attention of a Muslim boy named Khal (Abubakr Ali). The more he comes to know about Kelsa via her YouTube channel, the more he finds himself attracted to her, and this makes him quite conflicted. He does not know how to approach to her properly, and, above all, he hesitates to confide his growing romantic feelings to not only his dear family but also a close friend of his, who apparently does not know much about gender sensitivity.

Anyway, Khal eventually decides to express his feelings toward Kelsa boldly in front of others at their school, but, alas, he does not succeed as well as he hoped. While Kelsa is actually willing to respond to Khal, it turns out that Em also wants to be his girlfriend, and his small misstep leads to a serious misunderstanding followed by a very awkward moment which puts considerable strain on Kelsa’s relationship with Em. Quite bitter and disappointed, Em consequently shows how mean she can be, and that accordingly causes a considerable trouble for Kelsa later in the story.

Meanwhile, Kelsa and Khal become quite closer to each other once their mutual feeling is clearly recognized between them. While they naturally feel a bit awkward as their romantic relationship comes to attract the attention of everyone at their school, they are simply happy to be together, and we get a little sweet moment as they confide to each other about their respective aspirations for the future.

However, of course, their romance is soon accompanied with several issues surrounding Kesla’s sexual identity, and the screenplay by Ximena García Lecuona wisely does not overplay them while also recognizing what its heroine must face everyday. While she is quite lucky for getting all the support from several others around her including her mother, Kesla still has to struggle with how she honestly presents herself out there, and Khal also comes to stumble more than once while trying to be honest about his feelings toward his girlfriend.

Although it resolves the main conflict of the story a little too easily, the movie shows enough care and affection toward not only its heroine but also several supporting characters. While the relationship between Kesla and her mother turns out to be less than perfect, they still love and care about each other nonetheless, and there is a poignant scene where they come to have a little private conversation with more honesty. In case of Khal’s Muslim family, they are depicted with considerable life and personality, and his mother has a brief touching moment when she tells her son that she has no problem at all with whoever he is fallen in love with.

The movie trudges a bit during its last act, but it pulls off a neat finale in the end while buoyed by the unadorned chemistry between its two promising young lead performers. Besides clicking together well throughout the film, Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali are credible in their respective parts, and they are also supported well by a number of solid performers including Courtnee Carter, Kelly Lamor Wilson, and Renée Elise Goldsberry, who has been mainly known for her Tony-winning supporting turn in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit musical “Hamilton”.

As reflected by a series of notable mainstream adolescent queer films ranging from “Love, Simon” (2018) to “Crush” (2022), we have seen more of sexual minority adolescent characters on screen these days, and “Anything’s Possible” is certainly another good addition to this welcoming trend. Yes, the movie usually stays inside its genre conventions, but, thanks to the good efforts from its cast and crew members, it distinguishes itself to some degrees while delivering wholesome messages to audiences, and I sincerely hope that it will lead them to more distinctive transgender films during recent years such as “Tangerine” (2015) and “Lingua Franca” (2019). Seriously, if you have a good time with “Anything’s Possible”, just try these two little gems, and I assure you that they will broaden your view and mind.

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