Billy Porter’s directorial debut is a joyous teen rom com.
Anything’s Possible is exclusively available on Prime Video as of July 22.
Billy Porter makes his directorial debut with Anything’s Possible, a coming-of-age story for Kelsa (Eva Reign), a Pittsburgh senior navigating her last year of high school while embracing her trans life. Shot with vivacious energy and featuring a charming cast of mostly unknowns, Porter and screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona succeed in telling the unique story of a trans teen which is entirely relatable for everyone who has felt — or remembers what it felt like — to be on the outside and unsure of what the future holds.
The movie tracks a year in the life of Kelsa, from the first day of senior year to the start of her college career. Confident in her goals of being a professional photographer, everything else for Kelsa is still a work in progress. Bolstered by her supportive best friends, Em (Courtnee Carter) and Chris (Kelly Lamor Wilson), she’s still struggling with the by-products of her transitioning, like how people treat her, how to reconcile who she is inside with how the world sees her, and if she should start college telling people about her trans status. She works through her issues in a series of little-seen YouTube blogs and plans to just get through the school year with minimal drama.
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That works until Khal (Abubakr Ali), the class nice guy, starts engaging her more in conversation with a healthy dose of light flirting. He’s from an affluent Muslim family who want him to pursue a degree in something safe and practical. But there’s a romantic and an artist simmering inside of him, who is intrigued and smitten by Kelsa’s style and fellow artistic spirit. Encouraged by his little brother to pursue Kelsa, Khal drops flowers on her publicly, which incenses Em, who's been harboring a crush on him. It causes a huge rift in the girls’ friendship, but it doesn’t stop Khal from pursuing Kelsa in what will be her first romantic relationship.
What ensues is a genuinely earnest and charming story about young love. While being trans is absolutely an issue, and addressed well throughout, the story remains grounded in the relatable dramas that every teen has faced: self-esteem issues, parents with unyielding expectations, first love, anxieties spun out of the fish bowl of social media, and on and on. Porter captures all of the uncertainty of being a high school senior with his engaging ensemble of characters, each teetering on the recognizable precipice of the rest of their lives, partially clinging to the known yet excited for the unknown to come. Perhaps the only major crack in reality in expressing that authentic high school experience is how well put together every single student is. It’s Pittsburgh cosplaying as the Parsons School of Design, which is certainly aspiration but hardly reality.
The film has a sprightliness to its storytelling, featuring a soundtrack stuffed with bouncy, anthemic dance tracks.“
Porter also has a lot of empathy in telling Kelsa’s story, who wrestles with issues of self authenticity and preparing herself for inevitable rejection that will come with her transition. The school provides a microcosm of what’s waiting in the outside world, from the homophobic reaction of Khal’s best friend Otis (Grant Reynolds) to Em weaponizing Kelsa’s trans status because of jealousy and pettiness. It’s another reason why her relationship with Khal works so well in the movie, because Reign and Ali really make it clear what an oasis their characters are for one another. There’s a general kindness towards one another that is joyful to watch and makes us root for them to cling to one another when the difficulties threaten to pry them apart.
While the storytelling of Anything’s Possible isn’t genre shattering, per se, how Porter makes this teen story one of inclusion and empathy is potentially transformative in normalizing trans kids as having the same wants, needs, insecurities, and dreams as everyone. And by weaving into the film the mediums of Gen Z communication, from video blogs to texting and TikTok, Porter ensures the experience of today’s teens is grounded in actual reality instead of adults thrusting their “take” of the teen experience onto them. The film also has a sprightliness to its storytelling, featuring a soundtrack stuffed with bouncy, anthemic dance tracks that never let the more serious moments get too dire. Paired with Hanna Park’s kinetic edit, Anything’s Possible has an energetic pace that keeps the story lean and focused.
Porter proves his on-camera energy is entirely translatable in his first role behind the camera. With a great casting instinct, he gets some terrific performances out of his ensemble, especially from Reign and Ali, who are the beating heart of the story. There’s a tremendous amount of joy permeating every frame, which in turn frames the weightier issue of being trans with compassion and even celebration.