Gossamer Folds is a positive and uplifting drama that takes you on a spectacular journey with its phenomenal characters. Once I entered director Lisa Donato’s colorful world, I never wanted to leave. While brimming with positivity and hope, Gossamer dips its toes in the troubling waters of vicious transphobic hate crimes, adultery, transphobia, and homophobia.
It’s the summer of 1986, and young Tate (Jackson Robert Scott) moves with his parents to a new town. When his dad (Shane West) asks Tate what he thinks of their new place, Tate replies: “Amityville Horror.” It becomes evident early on that Tate’s father is both homophobic and transphobic: he makes terrible remarks about their new neighbor, transgender firecracker Gossamer (Alexandra Grey). With his parents always working, or at odds with each other, Tate finds an unexpected friend in Gossamer and her wise old father (Franklin Ojeda Smith).
Jackson Robert Scott, a young actor with major horror street cred thanks to roles in Stephen King’s It and The Prodigy, imbues his sweet innocence into little Tate. Tate has a pocket dictionary that he uses constantly to look up words he doesn’t understand. Tate doesn’t like people to tell him things—he prefers to learn for himself. Scott’s pleasant aura and naivety make Tate into a charming bundle of joy. Alexandra Grey as Gossamer is revelatory. The transgender actress, who I knew as Melody in the final season of FOX’s Empire, fluffs up Gossamer into a larger-than-life persona. Gossamer deals with the everyday struggles of being trans, and is constantly dead-named by her father.
Gossamer Folds could be defined as ‘excellent’ if you looked it up in the dictionary. It’s not easy to take heavy topics, flip the script, and keep them engaging. This film approaches the sensitive topics in a respectful and honest way that feels indicative of real-world sentiment. I didn’t expect to be left in tears, but when the final minutes of Gossamer Folds rolled around, the emotionality was overwhelming.
Gossamer Folds played as part of the virtual Oxford Film Festival, taking place from April 1st – April 30th.