Metro Weekly

‘Anything’s Possible’ Review: Isn’t It Romantic?

"Anything's Possible" hits a rom-com sweet spot simply by letting its trans teen heroine be herself and dare to dream.

Anything's Possible: Eva Reign, Abubakr Ali -- Photo: Courtesy of Orion Pictures
Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali in Anything’s Possible – Courtesy of Orion Pictures

Lifted by the bright, buoyant spirit of young love, Anything’s Possible (★★★☆☆) conjures a sweet romance between high school seniors Kelsa (Eva Reign) and Khal (Abubakr Ali). The film doesn’t radically shake up the modern romantic-comedy formula, except by centering this teenage love story around a teen who happens to be trans.

Played with verve and confidence by newcomer Reign, Kelsa is enjoying life as a smart, fashionable, relatively well-adjusted, and socially stable cool girl at Pittsurgh’s River Point High.

Whatever major issues or anxieties she’s dealing with, she generally channels into the video diary that she posts online, but keeps from her exceptionally supportive — and protective — mom Selene (Tony-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry).

The movie reveals early on that Kelsa’s handsome classmate Khal isn’t just crushing on her, but also has watched her videos, apparently in a sincere effort to better understand her experience. The really radical move here is the depiction of Khal as a thoughtful, sensitive lad with few hangups about loving whom he loves. He and Kelsa will confront other worse obstacles than their mutual inexperience in dating.

While Reign ably carries the film with her grounded presence and dryly-delivered narration, Ali is a revelation in what turns out to be the more dynamic role. The couple going high school-public with their romance immediately causes everyone in Khal’s world to question his sexuality, though he seems content to just follow his heart.

Khal does initially seek advice on Reddit to help him decide how to approach Kelsa for a date — a totally 21st-century plot point that screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona, who is trans, has said was inspired by a real-life Reddit post she saw from a boy who liked a trans girl and didn’t know what to do.

On one hand, as the movie suggests, it’s no big deal. On the other, as life on this planet confirms, it’s a big enough deal that there definitely will be consequences for Khal and Kelsa.

Some of those consequences are fueled by social media, which does giveth and taketh away, and firmly plays a role in this teenage universe via onscreen text and graphics, and through its ineluctable presence in all aspects of their lives.

Anything's Possible: Eva Reign, Abubakr Ali -- Photo: Courtesy of Orion Pictures
Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali in Anything’s Possible – Courtesy of Orion Pictures

Social apps and devices are more naturally woven into the film’s fabric than the wan attempts at humor. Khal’s dad’s reaction to learning who his oldest son is dating might be the only laugh-out-loud funny line. And the Mean Girls-style conceit of aspiring wildlife cinematographer Kelsa relating her friends and their high school to the animal kingdom feels like it’s been done.

Billy Porter, in his directing debut, adeptly summons the warm, bubbly atmosphere of first love, as in a beautifully shot date to the Phipps Botanical Garden, or the sharp ache of love in turmoil.

Put in terms that Kelsa might appreciate, the romance here works, but the comedy ain’t giving. Neither are the fashions, unfortunately — some of these kids dress like they attend school in Oz.

Yet, the film marks many other successes, most notably in its loving, joyful portrayal of a strong, young transgender woman. Kelsa asks with piercing directness in one of her online videos, “Why do I have to talk about gender all the time?” Of course, she’s right. Why can’t more of the world be like Khal, able to see and appreciate her for who she is without needing to define her. It’s possible to love her, and simply let her be.

Anything’s Possible is available for streaming on Prime Video. Visit www.amazon.com.

 

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