A throwback to all sorts of things directed by Billy Porter

Eva Reign as Kelsa and Abubakr Ali as Khal in Billy Porter's directorial debut Anything's Possible.

Eva Reign as Kelsa and Abubakr Ali as Khal in Billy Porter’s directorial debut Everything is possible.
photo: Orion images

It’s hard to overstate the importance of a film like Everything is possible get something resembling a mainstream release. At a time when an unprecedented wave of anti-transgender legislation is sweeping through state legislatures, stories of transgender experiences are vital and necessary. While one might hope that an empathetic portrayal could humanize trans people in the eyes of their oppressors, the value of a story like this is for trans teens and their allies, who otherwise don’t see their experiences portrayed on screen, let alone in an age of pluralized culture in which there is plenty of room to cater to any audience. That does not exist Everything is possible a free pass in terms of quality—and there are certainly aspects of Billy Porter’s directorial debut that don’t quite work—but screenwriter Ximena Garcia Lecuona crafts such a sweet coming-of-age story that it’s easy to appreciate the film’s numerous merits to celebrate.

Our protagonist Kelsa (Eva Reign) opens the film with a voiceover meditation on how different animals have evolved unique survival mechanisms over millennia – a direct parallel to how she and her classmates seek to adjust after graduating from high school Year. This mean girls Pastiche quickly falls away after Kelsa witnesses an art class encounter with Khal (Abubakr Ali), whose skill as a painter is matched only by his easy-going humor and charm. They develop a crush on one another, which develops into a relationship that tests their other friendships while also giving Kelsa and Khal the emotional freedom to be seen — including by themselves — for who they really are.

A crucial part of Kelsa’s perspective is her determination that her transgender identity is an important part of who she is and how she interacts with the world, but it’s not the only thing that defines her. Funny, flirty, and ambitious, she dreams of a college future outside of her hometown of Pittsburgh. The film superbly dramatizes this conflict between her desire to be seen as an individual and the desire for the world to pigeonhole her because of her gender, but this is one of many unique struggles Kelsa faces as a trans teenager . The film particularly emphasizes the youthful element of this identity, so while this is a story specifically about transness, its themes will appeal to anyone who grows up and learns to find the confidence to love themselves, let alone love someone else.

This, in turn, makes Khal a perfect match for Kelsa. He makes no outwardly bigoted assumptions about his girlfriend and always tries to be friendly, but also doesn’t always know how best to be an ally or support Kelsa through his classmates’ bigotry. But much like Kelsa, he wants to shape his own future and break away from his parents’ expectations of attending a four-year college education in favor of a career that might find him more personally and artistically fulfilling. Ultimately, his personal growth rests on confidently and unconditionally exploring his attraction to a woman that others around him see as novelty or as a beacon of “watch points” that his best friend Otis (Grant Reynolds) cannot discern as desirable to a straight man Man.

Unfortunately, Otis’ character is only allowed to develop so far, and that superficiality typifies most Everything is possible‘s supporting actor. Most of the named characters don’t have much personality or drift beyond their usefulness to the plot before being summarily abandoned in the third act, mostly implicitly resolving their particular storylines. Khal leaving his narrow-minded beast in the dust might be thematically appropriate, but subplots about Kelsa’s best friends Em (Courtnee Carter) and Chris (Kelly Lamor Wilson) feel underexplored and unresolved.

In particular, Em’s sense of betrayal after Khal pursues Kelsa instead of her leads to a vindictive manipulation of school policy to ban Kelsa from the women’s locker room, a development too cleanly resolved, as is the film’s testimony about Chris ‘Egocentric, performative allies. However, Renée Elise Goldsberry stands out among the supporting cast as Kelsa’s single mother, whose overprotective presence exerts a grounding influence when the pressures of teenage drama threaten to overwhelm her daughter; In particular, she delivers a monologue that rivals Jennifer Garner’s twist dear simon in the sense of a supportive fulfillment of parental wishes for queer kids.

Anything is Possible – Official Trailer | Prime video

Otherwise, it’s easy to blame the film’s shortcomings on the power of a unique romantic relationship as a growth catalyst for the people in it. Between director Billy Porter’s sporadic attempts at cutaway humor — which range from the laugh-out-loud-hilarious to the creepingly mundane — he cultivates a genuine sense of connection that lets both Kelsa and Khal shine and the importance of the “romantic” part of it amplified romantic comedy. Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali have palpable on-screen chemistry — not always necessarily sexual, but imbued with the kind of awkward, rambling sincerity that makes first love so powerful. The film’s epilogue, in particular, feels insightful, meditating on relationships in a way few high school romances do, and defining “happily ever after” in its own strikingly mature terms.

Everything is possible may be flawed in that it doesn’t fully develop at the fringes of its story, but the central relationship that holds the film together is so compelling that the rest hardly matters. Ximena Garcia Lecuona is not only a story about trans teen survival, she also wrote a story about thriving together through love, allies, and symbiotic personal growth. Everything is possible, Far from a cynical appeal to Gen Z’s alertness, it passionately calls for empathy and understanding that every viewer can relate to, and ultimately highlights the universal truth that love ultimately enables us to be our best selves whether trans or not.

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