★★★★★ | Boy Meets Girl
Eric Schaeffer’s refreshing and enchanting drama about three 20 year-olds looking for love in a small backwater town in Kentucky gently challenges us to suspend our preconceived views on gender labels and be as open to what happens as these lovelorn kids are. Ricky is a confident and determined transgendered young woman who is marking her time working in the local coffee until she is accepted at Fashion School in NY and can get on with the life she dreams of. She’s been best friends with Robby since they were 6 years and he now works as a mechanic at her father’s garage and the two of them are totally inseparable.
Then one day their world gets shaken up more than a little when Francesca breezes into the coffee shop and within minutes it’s clear that there is a mutual attraction between her and Ricky. Francesca is the spoiled rich kid of a local Politician and is engaged to be married to a Marine presently serving in Afghanistan. When she and Ricky hang out with each other and start to really bond, Ricky breaks the news about her identity to her new friend by text even though they are sitting next to each other at the moment. It sets a tone on how all the intimate moments are so superbly handled in this touching tale of romance.
Francesca has been ‘saving herself’ for marriage … well, that’s the line she has feeding David her fiance… but soon finds herself in bed with Ricky. She asks after making love if this now makes her gay, to which Ricky simply replies ‘it makes you human.’ The situation soon intensifies when David comes home on leave unexpected and is horrified to discover that his fiance’s new best friend is the transgendered Ricky. It turns out that his homophobia is, however, to do with his own secret past which he shared with Ricky.
The one person who is even more upset with the two girl’s relationship, which ends before it even gets a chance to really take off, is Robby. Turns out that he now realises that he must come to terms with his own feelings for his best friend, and once he can let go of his preconceived ideas of her gender, he can love her for who she really is.
Schaeffer’s script handles this all with such refreshing candour which empowers these young people to find it within themselves to accept and value who they are without being hung up on the labels that society insists on doling out. Ricky’s own journey of discovery up to that point was certainly not easy as she had to deal not only with bullying and taunting during her school days but also with the demons of misremembering her late mother’s opinions. She is, however, fortunate to have the unconditional support of her blue-collared father and her younger brother.
Superb casting also contributed a great deal to the undisputed success of the movie, and the presence of the incredibly talented transgendered actress Michelle Hendley making her film debut as Ricky lifted the whole piece to a different plane. She gave a riveting performance of Ricky as a sassy strong-willed young woman, not immune to the world’s negativity and ignorance about her sexuality, but one who was determined that it wouldn’t stop her being her own true self.
It’s warm and often very funny and an entertaining, intelligent, sensitive treatment of an oft-misunderstood subject and probably the most enlightening and best movie that I have seen on it so far. It truly deserves the widest audience possible way.