High school is hard. For some people, it’s harder than others, for all sorts of reasons, but it’s hard no matter what. Billy Porter’s director debut, the Prime Video original high school rom-com Anything’s Possible, written by Ximena García Lecuona showcases a whole host of those difficulties in a sweet and simple package. Kelsa (Eva Reign) is a high school senior who is trans and trying to navigate her way through what she wants from her last year of high school and really, her future. Khal (Abubakr Ali) is also a senior, who’s really looking for much of the same. When they meet sparks fly between them instantly, but they also fly between them and their best friends.
I’m going to start with one tough criticism and then it’ll be far more positive from here. Anything’s Possible has the vibe of a movie made by people who aren’t Gen Zers about Gen Z kids. Not in the script or the plot or anything. I can even believe that a major part of the narrative device, Kelsa’s vlog and Khal’s Reddit posting are things kids their age might actually be up to. And the costuming is completely on point for how kids are dressing. It’s just sincerely the overall vibe. It’s a tad too self-serious in the way that the it’s constructed and edited. The vlogging and Redditing, for example, worked on me as devices by the end, but the sequences just feel contrived in a way that Gen Z is anything but contrived.
Kids that age are absolutely having the kinds of heartfelt and deep conversations with themselves and each other on display throughout the movie, that’s not the issue either. But Chris (Kelly Lamor Wilson), one of Kelsa’s best friends, is the only character who strikes me with the kind of off-the-cuff, not over-thought character throughout compared to the constant meticulousness of Kelsa and Khal’s every move. Again, it’s not that they feel like unrealistic characters on paper or even in some of their better acting moments. It’s just that they feel presented in an unnatural way more befitting a teen movie ten years ago than one whose characters are called smart and creative and more but never really display it.
This is a gripe though, not a condemnation. With this nitpick aside, Anything’s Possible is a lovely movie with a central couple very easy to root for. They’re both just really good and caring characters who spend so much time introspective about themselves and their relationship. Its characters are adorable and there is never a moment where you’re not rooting for them, even when they’re being their teenagiest with poor communication and self-absorbed assumptions about the way the world is looking at them. Most powerfully, it implores the audience that there is no singular way to be a trans teenager, no matter what some depictions, internet bubbles, and self-doubt might have some believe.
Kelsa and Khal are just new at love. Kelsa has only recently transitioned. Khal is uncomfortable with the labels people give him just for dating Kelsa. And it’s these parts of their life and more we see them asking themselves about over and over in a way you love to see because you don’t see it often. Their lack of communication is blended heavily with assumptions too. They think they know how everyone else is thinking about them at all times. They think that just because they are confident in their own selves that other people can’t still want to show their support.
I love the way the movie explores some of the unique struggles of a relationship between somebody who is cis and somebody who is trans. It explores concerns for whether Khal is only interested in Kelsa because she is trans, or whether his concerns for her are simply because he cares or because his concern is elevated by her being trans, for example. They’re difficult questions that everyone in either situation has had to struggle with in their own ways and the way Anything’s Possible tackles these questions and so many others, in the long run, are really satisfying and are probably really helpful depictions for folks feeling similarly. That the characters are in high school helps make all these struggles feel like they’re the end all be all of life, because to teenagers they just may be, and it makes their resolutions feel equally sincere. It’s a quality that turns a specific experience into a story immediately relatable for just about anybody going through uncertainty with love and identity.
Anything’s Possible isn’t always presented just right for my liking, with some cognitive dissonance for me between the way it’s contrived and the age of its characters. But beyond that, it is an astute portrayal of a modern romance, asking all the right questions and giving all the right answers to help shine a for folks going through similar explorations.
Anything’s Possible premiered July 14th as part of Outfest LA Film Festival 2022. It is streaming on Prime Video July 22nd.
Anything’s Possible isn’t always presented just right for my liking, with some cognitive dissonance for be between the way it’s contrived and the age of its characters. But beyond that, it is an astute portrayal of a modern romance, asking all the right questions and giving all the right answers to help shine a for folks going through similar explorations.