Billy Porter's directorial debut Anything's Possible arrives on Amazon Prime at an important time. In the midst of a wave of anti-transgender legislation being passed at the state level, here is a mainstream rom-com coming-of-age film that tells the story of a trans experience. Stories like this are vital as they allow trans teenagers to see their experiences portrayed on screen. This doesn't excuse Anything's Possible many flaws but the film is sweet, well-intended, and significant.
The film follows Kelsa (Eva Reign) a YouTube content creator and senior in high school. She has a meet-cute with Khal (Abubakr Ali) in art class where they are required to paint each other. Things develop into a relationship that tests the strength of their friendships and familial bonds. In the midst of the drama, Kelsa and Khal are able to be seen for who they truly are, bravely showing their relationship to the school and their families.
One of the most compelling elements of the film is Kelsa's perspective. She believes her transgender identity is important and she values the videos she creates that reach out to others in the world going through similar things. However, Kelsa does not want to be defined as being trans. This is difficult given the way people at her school can treat her as a novelty. The film is best when focused on her desire to be seen as a whole person and the way people want to see her as her gender. This theme will resonate with any
teen who is trying to figure out who they are and how people view them.
Khal is a nice guy who makes no assumptions about Kelsa. He is going through his own trial as he tried to convince his parents to let him pursue a trade that means something to him. It is a cliche to have his parents focused on a steady job versus an artistic one but it works here as it is tied to the confidence he gains by dating Kelsa. His best friend Otis (Grant Reynolds) refuses to understand the situation making Khal even more committed to Kelsa. The film does a nice job of showing the many reactions people have to LGBTQ+ people.
Unfortunately, wanting to show the bigotry and shallowness of certain characters leaves them often one-dimensional. Otis, for example, is given no development as a character. There are countless nameless characters who merely serve as stand-ins for broad takes on people's viewpoints. Most of these characters are abandoned in the third act. Kelsa's best friend Em feels betrayed after Khal asks Kelsa out over her. This leads Em to some vengeful actions that get Kelsa banned from the woman's locker room and bathrooms. It is a dramatically rich moment but their relationship is resolved too easily. It rings false in the film's final moments.
Director Billy Porter often stages scenes as scenes from a Broadway play rather than a film. Side players routinely go big, playing to the rafters when the camera is close up on them. It is jarring and often results in some cringe-inducing moments. What Porter gets right is the real connection between Kelsa and Khal. When the film focuses on romance and not comedy or the message, it has real chemistry in it. Eva Reign and Abubkar Ali create a sincere connection that carries the film past a few rough patches. The film also sticks the landing of their relationship, showing the reality of high school relationships.
Anything's Possible is flawed but no one can deny the importance of the film. At its core, it has a compelling central relationship. This isn't just a message film either about a trans teenager. The screenplay by Ximena Garcia Lecuona explores the importance of community and personal growth. The film is without cynicism and it is all the better for it.