‘Anything’s Possible’ review: Billy Porter serves up love for all

The emotional truths swirl, disappear and reveal themselves in Billy Porter’s directorial debut, Anything’s Possible. A sweet and touching romantic comedy from YA that follows Kelsa (Eva Reign), a black transgender high school student, through a senior year filled with love and drama.

Kelsa is a steadfast young woman. She often leans on her two friends – Chris (Kelly Lamor Wilson) and Em (Courtnee Carter) – for support as she navigates the pressures of her teenage years and existing as herself, a transgender woman. However, she turns her hard-won stability upside down when she falls in love with Em’s crush, a kind and understanding Khal (Abubakr Ali), leading to a falling out between her and her best friend. It’s a delicate situation for Kelsa. But fear doesn’t deter her. Because for the first time in her life, this fiercely independent woman feels loved by someone she thinks understands her.

Kelsa and Khal are a winning duo with dynamite chemistry. They move around each other with a palpable physical freedom that gently ignites romance. The twinkle in her eyes that flashes above her knowing smile is the kind of awkward teenage swoon made for comfortable viewing. Porter, a Pittsburgh native, uses the city as a canvas for the couple’s love story. They have dates in the leafy conservatory and the Andy Warhol Museum, where their attraction grows organically. Porter pulls out two fantastic, lived-in performances from Ali and Reign as both demonstrate their potential to make the rom-com genre a lasting, hearty meal in their future careers.

Screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona’s brilliant screenplay sprang from reading a Reddit post by a guy who elicited advice from him about asking a trans girl out. This sense of insecurity fills every corner of Lecuona’s nimble but frank narrative.

Anything’s Possible takes a deep interest in the empathetic communities that teenagers create on social media. Kelsa uses her denominational YouTube channel to share her transitional journey, relationship updates, and her interest in animals, particularly how they survive their surroundings (a topic that resonates with a trans girl in high school). Khal spends much of his time on Reddit providing relationship advice to countless romantically confused users. He’s open and honest – almost unfairly – online, but he fears what will happen when his transphobic best friend Otis (Grant Reynolds) or his old-fashioned parents find out about his relationship with Kelsa.

Khal is also the kind of well-meaning guy who believes he can fix anything, a habit that scares Kelsa, while her ex-girlfriend Em, still furious at losing her crush, begins to take revenge. Em bends feminism for TERF purposes, using a harmless altercation between herself and Kelsa in a locker room to demand that trans women be restricted to gender-neutral bathrooms. At times, the interpersonal dynamics between these characters expect the tropes about rough teens to take over the heavyweights, but Porter deftly calibrates these scenes as a launch pad to later critique how patronizing can disguise itself as activism. For example, Chris protests on Kelsa’s behalf without her permission, while Khal tries to protect his girlfriend from the poison. In doing so, they view Kelsa primarily through the politics of her gender and not through her personality. Learning not to victimize people in the LGBTQIA+ community is probably the most crucial and enriching lesson in a film filled with them.

Porter’s film leaves a lot to be desired with the washed-out lighting. A few of the supporting acts are also wooden and forced. But the seriousness of the narrative is such that the visual flaws hardly matter. Porter expands the romantic comedy screen with gentle grace in “Anything’s Possible,” a poised and intelligent debut.

‘Everything is possible’

Rated: PG-13 for strong language, thematic material, sexual material, and brief teenage drinking

Duration: 1 hour, 36 minutes

To play: Available July 22nd on Prime Video

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-07-21/review-movie-anythings-possible-billy-porter-high-school-transgender-romantic-comedy ‘Anything’s Possible’ review: Billy Porter serves up love for all

Sarah Ridley

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