As a major fan of Pose and American Horror Story: Apocalypse actor Billy Porter, the thought of a trans rom-com directed by him seemed almost too good to be true. The end result, however, is richer and more spectacularly fun than I had ever imagined. Never does it dwell in the sadness or trauma typically synonymous with the way media portrays trans stories. It certainly helps that for a romance, both leads are overtly likable, share sizzling sexual chemistry, and Ximena Garcia Lecuona’s script is filled with surprises. Anything’s Possible proves its own title tenfold—rom-coms like this one with a fresh perspective are the future of the subgenre. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented, and I think Anything’s Possible is even more impactful because it depicts a type of romance we rarely see shown onscreen.
Coming in hot with a Disney Channel Original Movie energy and a dash of darkness, Anything’s Possible recalls the nostalgic best of the rom-coms of yesteryear while beckoning us forward into a brave new direction. Kelsa (Eva Reign) is a trans teen who has been cataloguing her transitional journey through extensive vlogs, acting as a sort of video journal. Handsome and sweet Khal (Abubakr Ali) draws the attention of Em (Courtnee Carter), one of Kelsa’s best friends, but Khal has his eye on Kelsa. He picks a beautiful crop of wildflowers, and gifts them to Kelsa during lunch at the urging of his suave brother, Arwen (Naveen Paddock)… right next to Kelsa’s bestie, Em, who storms off in embarrassed horror. With trouble already brewing, Khal confronts Kelsa in the elevator, suggesting two possible outcomes: “live our own life right now, or do what people expect of us.”
Chemistry between Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali is palpable from the very beginning. Sparks fly as soon as the year begins at River Point High School, when Kelsa and Khal partner up in art class to draw one another in different signature styles. Khal, a budding artist longing to pursue his passions, is instantly draw to Kelsa’s confidence and free spirit. Should he care what his obnoxious, apparently homophobic friend thinks about his potential relationship with a trans girl? At least Kelsa’s attention-seeking pal, Chris (Kelly Labor Wilson), sticks around for awhile well after Em decides to cut her off completely. The conflict between each lead is more internal than external, and manages to dodge several of the predictable tropes we typically see from this fare.
As senior year rages on, pressures for college essays and acceptance rear their ugly head. Is this a relationship that can endure any distance? First love in all its prickly curiosities is lovingly depicted through Khal and Kelsa as they yearn to define what they mean to one another. Acting from both parties impressed me, and Porter has an eye for their adorable awkwardness. Abubakr Ali reminded me a bit of live action Aladdin’s Mena Massoud in the best way possible; Eva Reign plays a strong female lead whose heart is permanently on her sleeve with ease. Important topics like gendered bathrooms and gatekeeping femininity are tackled without subtlety, but sometimes it takes bluntness for a lesson to land. As the film charges into its finale, I do wish it took time for a bit of breathing room to let those final minutes really sink in to have a grander effect.
Anything’s Possible brings specificity to its characters, but none moreso than Kelsa. Obsessed with animals and defining those around her—“every animal and every person has their own survival mechanism,” Kelsa narrates—the audience is constantly given animalistic definitions of those around her that act to fully form her worldview. Kelsa’s mother (Renee Elisa Goldsberry) is also depicted as supportive and loving, a far cry from how trans parents are often portrayed. Hopefully someday very soon, like Kelsa in the film, we will not focus as much on gender, but on love. Until then, I would happily watch Kelsa’s blogs normalizing her feelings. Anything’s Possible reminds audiences that love is out there if one is willing to take a chance on it, sometimes in the most unlikely of places.
Anything’s Possible flies the flag high for trans rights when it debuts exclusively to Prime Video on Friday, July 22nd.