it is so refreshing to watch a film starring a transgender woman who is treated like a human, and not one who is mentally ill or comic relief.
When I first sat down to watch this I was expecting a soppy romance that I could have on in the background while I sorted through my emails; something with a couple of laughs, a misunderstanding, a “but they’re meant for each other” moment and most likely a chase sequence ending in a romantic embrace. In a way I wasn’t wrong, but I wasn’t expecting to be genuinely moved.
Boy Meets Girl focuses around Ricky (Michelle Handley) who lives with her father and little brother Sam (Joseph Ricci). Best friends with Robbie (Michael Welch), the film opens with her working in a coffee shop, moaning to him about the lack of romantic interest in her life. But, as with all good Rom-Coms, that is all about to change.
The film, while focused on the present, dips in and out of the past with a YouTube video that Ricky made as a youngster, explaining and expanding an already complex and complete character.
Written and directed by Eric Schaeffer, it’s a well put together film with a cast that really holds its own. While it does play in to some of those Romantic Comedy cliches and has the feel of an independent, it embraces itself for what it is and encourages its audience to do the same.
I have asked myself whether if this was a heteronormative storyline whether I would have enjoyed it so much. Honestly I don’t think I would have. Much of its charm lies in the fact that it is tackling issues that are usually found in serious dramas or late night TV documentaries where they are handled with far less care. Far too often the end result is either that of freaks or clowns. This films brings transgender out of the circus and into the real world where it belongs.
Ricky is a strong confident woman, who knows who she is, who she wants to be and what she has to do to get from one to the other. She has a sharp tongue and a determination to match. She is flawed only in that she is human; no more so than the next person. While her gender and sexuality (two very different things) play central roles in the film, neither is something she is blamed for. She is never portrayed as indecisive, attention seeking, mentally ill or as someone to make fun of.
In an ideal world this would not be worthy of note, but I can honestly say this is the first film I have seen that manages this. Even TransAmerica (2005) found humour in Bree (Felicity Huffman). The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) came close with Terence Stamp as Bernadette, but that’s about it. Here’s hoping it will not be the last.