Starring: Colby Minifie, Tre Ryder, Maria Dizzia
Director: Joseph Sackett
Johnny (Ryder) adores his free-spirited hipster babysitter, Melanie (Minifie – The Boys). Together they watch an online video about “free-spirit meditation”, which explains how a person can separate their soul from their own body and enter another person. After some practice, Johnny succeeds in entering Melanie and begins to experience life in her body.
Like a mumblecore Freaky Friday, Johnny finds himself forced into adult situations as he deals with Melanie’s employer (Dizzia – Orange Is The New Black) – his own mother – as well as delivering her friend’s baby and fending off the advances of her friend-with-benefits. The script is exquisitely composed, with Johnny’s pre-teen vocabulary spoken by a pitch-perfect Colby Minifie. The actress is resplendent in this role, tapping directly into her inner child with carefully observed and painstakingly enacted mannerisms.
For a low-budget but high-concept sci-fi, it looks great too, with the art direction and set dressing of Johnny’s apartment looking like a chocolate box of trinkets and objets d’art. It seems like a wonderful place to grow up, so no wonder Johnny’s mother has to barter with him to leave the apartment! Captured with a light palate of pastels and white, it all looks heavenly, idealised and a lovely place to be a child.
The most interesting angle, however, is of course the gender-swap. Johnny expresses discontentment with gender binaries from the start, which is only exacerbated once he starts to experience life as a girl. Watching him explore ways to express Melanie’s femininity is a joy, trying on every item in her closet, slathering makeup on her face and finding out the truth about tampons. But the lessons he learns about how people can view women are also touching moments, realising that it isn’t as easy to be a woman as he once thought.
To Johnny, having this chance to experience life as a girl is nothing short of amazing and we experience that delight with him. A light, bright and moving feel-good flick, Homebody will make everyone wish they’d had such a gloriously genderqueer moment in their childhoods too.
UK Release: 6th December 2022 on VOD, exclusively on Fandor