Everything is possible2022.
Directed by Billy Porter.
With Eva Reign, Abubakr Ali, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Courtnee Carter, Kelly Lamor Wilson, Grant Reynolds, Simone Joy Jones, Tordy Clark, Naveen Paddock, Caroline Travers and Alec Ludacka.
A delightfully modern Gen Z coming-of-age story that follows Kelsa, a confident high school girl who is trans, as she navigates her senior year.
Early in singer/actor Billy Porter’s directorial debut, Everything is possible (using a script by Ximena García Lecuona), 17-year-old high school student Kelsa (Eva Reign) mentions in one of her very personal YouTube videos (offering thoughts and commentary on the transgender experience since transitioning) that ‘she doesn’t want to be loved for these reasons. As she says, some people will give her a pass or be a false ally for “wake points”. And for a transcentric film to be as wonderful as it is, it’s also a fair thought process to keep in mind to break down something as refreshing as transgender identity and romance at the forefront of a story.
It’s a way of saying that what’s here is often messy (the third act in particular is worse at expanding the scope of the story while jumping the shark as far as social media goes and going viral because of many movies tend to get it wrong and used in an artificial way) even though the central bonding lovebirds are immensely likable while dealing with heartfelt struggles.
It’s frustratingly enough that everything outside of Kelsa’s thoughts on sex, the way she wants to be seen and treated, and the budding love life with her artistically inclined classmate Khal (Abubakr Ali) comes across as either hokey, over the top, or an opportunity for terrible comedy punctuated with cringe punchlines (Kelsa is fascinated with wildlife and nature, so most of the jokes involve representing the rest of the school and the students of area; for example, one student tries desperately to woo another but does so with the personality of a dumb animal).
Kelsa also has her girl squad consisting of Courtnee Carter’s Em and Kelly Lamor Wilson’s Chris, with the former also having a crush on Khal. It turns out Khal only has eyes for Kelsa, setting the stage for a generic love triangle that threatens to shatter the harmony between friends. Meanwhile, Khal must deal with the possibility of losing his transphobic (and utterly awful) friend, who won’t accept them once he inevitably finds out. The real question is why these two are friends in the first place, but the storyline only seems to be about roadblocks and drama for fun rather than questioning and characterizing it in any meaningful way beyond the superficial notion of seeing a story like this play out on a mainstream streaming service like Amazon.
Luckily, when Kelsa and Khal are onscreen together, Everything is possible finds its rhythm as a romance about a girl who only wants to be seen for who she is, acknowledging that everything about her identity is up to her whether it’s alone or through YouTube videos. Naturally, there are organic clashes here, viewing Khal as a genuinely nice kid who sometimes tries too hard to help, missing Kelsa’s point. It also helps that Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali have awkwardly charming chemistry as they navigate what makes their blossoming relationship unique.
Everything else is rough around the edges; there are several embarrassing attempts at jokes, some plot developments that derail the love story aspect in favor of an introduction to how to be an activist and an ally (with dialogue dodgy that seems ripped from a Twitter algorithm rather than something humans would say to each other), and some superparents/lectures about the danger of internet strangers that are also poorly written.
Plus, while friends betray each other and bullies exist, Everything is possible is far too tame and sanitized for all of this and its resolution to have any impact. The dynamic also doesn’t work as a commentary on how we lose friends and gain new ones as we age and mature and become different people (sometimes people opposite to what our current friends believe), because these friendships are nowhere near enough explored for something along those lines to resonate.
Beyond those questions, Billy Porter (who also brings a keen fashion sense here when it comes to colorful character wardrobes and glamorous bedroom designs) manages to portray the fundamental relationship in a way that’s also unquestionably universal (you don’t have to be transgender to want your partner to love you for who you are). It also has a creative visual mind, bringing Reddit posts to life via characters imagining what the user looks like and looks like when reading the post.
So during Everything is possible is a hodgepodge of things that work and don’t work, it also suggests a strong possibility that Billy Porter will evolve as a filmmaker and tell equally refreshing stories with more emotional bite.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter Where Letter boxor email me at [email protected]