Anything’s Possible: A Celebration of Trans Joy


Pittsburgh native Billy Porter shines a light on his hometown in his directorial debut, Anything’s Possible. Kelsa (Eva Reign) is a high school senior with the kind of charmingly awkward, overbearing mother (Renée Elise Goldsberry) who seems to exist only in teen rom coms. With college application due dates on the horizon, Kelsa’s mother encourages her to get started on her essay about bravery. She thinks Kelsa should write about the courage it took to come out as transgender, but Kelsa thinks otherwise. She’s desperate to live her life without gender being a part of every conversation she has.

Khal (Abubakr Ali) is also a high school senior with parents (Manu Narayan and Miriam Laube) who have already planned out his future. They want him to go to a four-year college and get a degree in economics, but Khal’s heart lies in art or technical school. He’s also crushing hard on Kelsa. The two share an art class, and the sparks hesitantly fly as their eyes lock over their easels. No matter how confident they seem, Khal and Kelsa are just two awkward teens trying to deal with big feelings they don’t understand.

Anything’s Possible is an exhibition of Reign and Ali. Teen rom coms are made or broken by their leads, and these two are beguiling. They’re sparkling and effervescent, with an electricity that crackles between them, and they’ve created a beautiful relationship between Khal and Kelsa. It’s the performances of Reign and Ali that truly carry the film, especially their portrayal of the stomach-churning emotions that come with a teenage crush. As they walk through the lush gardens of Phipps Conservatory on their first date, it’s easy for the audience to be swept up in their stumbling, endearing conversations and remember feeling like that themselves.

Kelsa and Khal sit in the school lobby
Photo credit: Tony Rivetti

Just like in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, another Pittsburgh-shot coming-of-age film, Anything’s Possible has its Fort Pitt Tunnel moment. Those who live in the city know there are plenty of other bridges that will get you where you’re going with less traffic, but there’s nothing like that vista. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it’s the infamous David Bowie “Heroes” scene. In Anything’s Possible, it’s much more subdued, with stolen glances between Khal and Kelsa as they ride a bus to their first date. When the tunnel opens and the full beauty of the city is on display, it feels just as grand. 

It’s inevitable that much of the criticism surrounding Anything’s Possible will be about how it’s predictable, formulaic, and cheesy. And those critiques would be right, but that’s no reason to say the movie isn’t worth the time. Formulaic, predictable, and cheesy do not make a bad movie. It’s an extraordinarily fine line, and a movie falls on either side of that line based on heart. It’s easy to see when actors and filmmakers are simply going through the motions and using predictable story beats just to make things easier.

Anything’s Possible is predictable, formulaic, and cheesy, and those are its greatest strengths. To look at this film in isolation is to fundamentally misunderstand how lifesaving it will be for transgender people of all ages. Everyone deserves to see themselves in a love story. A romantic story that is so filled to the bursting with sweetness that they get a toothache. Hopefully, Anything’s Possible will be a watershed moment, throwing open the doors for a flood of content focused on trans joy.

The film stretches itself a little too far in the interpersonal conflicts that arise. Porter and screenwriter Ximena García Lecuona clearly have much they’re desperate to say, but the lack of meaningful resolutions for some conflicts leaves their efforts a bit empty. When the movie ends, it feels unresolved in a way that is unexpected, given the genre. It’s as if Porter and Lecuona had a checklist of issues they wanted to cover, but weren’t always able to find enough time for them in the film. Anything’s Possible would have been better served to explore the lasting effects of losing friendships, especially in the teen years.

Kelsa and Khal stand on the bridge with an engraved lock

The dearth of topics Anything’s Possible seeks to cover does a slight disservice to the character of Kelsa. She becomes overburdened despite Reign’s performance. The movie really soars in its quieter moments when Reign is given the time and space to deftly handle the ups and downs of teenage life in a more slowed down way. The movie does lend itself to a sequel about Kelsa’s college experience. How she feels about moving across the country, the freshness of college, and the challenges of growing up would be a welcome continuation of Anything’s Possible.

The script is amusing and quick, with a runtime of 95 minutes. Some of the teenspeak is a little awkward, but (full disclosure) that might be from not knowing any teens in real life and not spending any time on TikTok. The dialogue and the slang are very “of the moment,” which is neither good nor bad. It speaks more to the way slang and language are dispersed, thanks to modern technology. 

There are moments of Anything’s Possible that are simply infectious, and there’s a sweetness left as the film ends. Not overwhelming and certainly not bitter, just a lingering pleasantness that’ll stay with the audience long after the credits roll.

Written by Tina Kakadelis

News Editor for Film Obsessive. Movie and pop culture writer. Seen a lot of movies, got a lot of opinions. Let's get Carey Mulligan her Oscar.

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