Anything's Possible ***
Starring: Eva Reign, Abubakr Ali, Courtnee Carter, Kelly Lamor Wilson, Renee Elise Goldsberry
Director: Billy Porter
Queer icon Billy Porter (Pose, Cinderella) has stepped behind the camera for his feature debut in this teen high school rom-com, Anything’s Possible.
Kelsa (Reign) is in her senior year, flanked by best friends Em (Carter) and Chris (Wilson). They do everything together and lean on one another for support, but when Em’s crush Khal (Ali) actually has a crush on Kelsa, the issue that had never been an issue before rears its head; the fact that Kelsa is trans. As Kelsa’s gender identity becomes the hottest gossip around school, she must deal with the fall-out from her friends, family and the boy she has fallen in love with.
One thing’s for certain; this is a diverse and representative movie with its head screwed on. With a trans actress as the lead, its casting, plot and script are lifted perfectly from the Woke Playbook – and it’s all the better for it. Though it deals with many trans issues – gendered bathrooms, hormone treatment etc. – it does a very good job both at making Kelsa very human and relatable and at not dwelling on labelling what Khal’s attraction to her means. It manages to find the balance between trans issues and the general human – specifically high school – experience.
Like most good high school rom-coms, this is glossy as hell and the characters’ socio-economic lives are both privileged and fortunate. As escapism goes, this is fantastic, but it does seem to jar somewhat with the rest of the film’s mission statement. If you’re able to look past all that, this is gloriously idealised, aspirational and drenched in all the froth of teenage romanticism. But if you’re not… well, you’ll find it all a bit pedestrian.
Narratively, however, it does play it incredibly safe. It buys into the genre tropes of teen cinema fully, but when it does start to deal with the issues that – rightly – deliver its edge, it simply scratches the surface without getting under the skin of these genuine problems that Kelsa is facing. It’s like these are window dressing, but it’s the genre conventions that Porter wants to showcase the most and you’d expect this director to do it the other way round. And as any Mean Girls fanatic will tell you, it’s a high school rom-com’s script that really makes it a success and unfortunately Anything’s Possible is conspicuously lacking in jokes.
As a result, we have safe and sanitised teen fluff that’s perfect for Gen-Z mass-consumption but somewhat lacking for an older audience wanting something chunkier. Just like a supermarket birthday cake that looks great but tastes solely of sugar, this a film that only half-delivers.
UK Release: Out now on Amazon Prime