Love-squares get so much steamier when you throw a transgender person in them.
Ricky (Michelle Hendley) is a young woman from Kentucky who wants to go to college in New York so that she can pursue a possible fashion career. Ricky was also born a female in every which way, except physically, and it’s taken her many of years for her, as well as many others around her, to accept that fact for what it is. Her best friend Robby (Michael Welch) absolutely does and sees Ricky as the friend of his he’s known since he was a kid; everybody else in the town knows Ricky, too, except one girl by the name of Francesca (Alexandra Turschen), who is, predictably, interested in Ricky and her “situation”. However, the interest soon turns into attraction, which leads Ricky and Francesca to contemplate having something of a relationship with one another and see if it could work. Because the only reason why it wouldn’t work isn’t because Ricky still has a penis, or that Francesca is going “through a phase”, but because the latter’s actually engaged to David (Michael Galante), a soldier who is currently station in Afghanistan.
Oh, what a lovely little surprise he’ll stumble upon when he gets back!
Believe it or not, despite the terrible title, Boy Meets Girl is anything but. Though it may read like a melodramatic and predictable-as-all-hell rom-com, the fact that it has a transgender-angle to it isn’t the only element that makes it seem “different” – it’s also because the movie actually takes time with its characters and just what it is that they bring to this story. That Boy Meets Girl features a transgender lead in a role made for a transgender woman, only makes the movie more interesting and insightful, even when it seems like writer/director Eric Schaeffer seems to lose his way a bit.
But more on that bad stuff later! On with the goods, because there are plenty of them to be found here!
What Schaeffer does well with Boy Meets Girl is that he gives each and everyone of these characters a living, breathing, and distinct soul that allows them to be seen more as “types”. For instance, the smart-ass, find-a-joke-to-make-anywhere role of Ricky would gotten annoying real quick, but we soon start to see that there’s a reason why she’s like that in the first place and makes her react in the sarcastic manner that she so often does. The way in how Schaeffer continues to go back to this may be troubled, but it still helps stretch this character out a bit more and shows that there’s more to her that’s laying under her very soft skin.
The same goes for all of these other characters, too. Welch’s Robby seems like a nice dude who genuinely doesn’t care if Ricky is a boy, a girl, or somewhere in between, he just wants her to stay her, and that’s it; Turschen’s Francesca, while a bit naive, by the same token, also feels like she may actually like Ricky as a person, regardless of it’s as a friend or not, she just wants her in her life; and Galante’s David, despite coming into play late in the movie, comes off as the most interesting character of the bunch as his initial anti-homosexual bashing, eventually starts to show glimpses of humanity that makes us understand why he is the way he is.
All of these characters and actors are great and all, but it’s really Michelle Hendley’s movie from beginning to end, as it totally should have been. Most of the credit that goes to Schaeffer right away, is the fact that he chose to actually cast a transgender woman in the role of a transgender woman. Whenever there’s a show or movie about transgender persons, it’s mostly used as a way to highlight just how “deep” and “far” a straight actor is willing to go dressing in the other sexes clothes and being seen in a different way that they aren’t used to being seen in (Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent, or Felicity Huffman in Transamerica, among others). That’s not saying that there’s anything wrong with getting well-known actors in your roles for transgender peoples – it’s just that it can often times ring false if the actor or creator isn’t lucky enough.
With Hendley, Schaeffer is more than lucky.
Because Hendley most likely had to go through a lot of what her character is currently going through, the performance comes off as more raw and believable; every ounce of hurt, or pain, or even happiness that’s found in herself, seems realistic in a way that isn’t made to keep the plot moving. Hendley’s definitely well-equipped as an actress and even though her character gets thrown into some awkward situations here and there, it’s definitely not her fault – she’s as strong-willed and as personable as you can get with a lead like this. Here’s to hoping that we see more of her in stuff, regardless of if the roles call out for transgender workers or not.
Because honestly, does it really matter?
But now that I’ve gotten through all of the happy, most definitely positive stuff, it’s about time to highlight some of the problems to be had that keep Boy Meets Girl from really shaking up the rom-com genre. For one, I don’t feel as if Schaeffer is as skilled of a director as he may be a writer. Though this movie would have definitely had a smaller budget than most movie’s of its kind, there’s still something amateurish about the way Schaeffer seems to position his story and camera; sometimes, dialogue-heavy scenes run on for days-on-end, without ever seeming like they have an end in sight, nor do they really have much of a rhythm for the whole film.
This may sound like absolute gibberish coming from my finger-tips, but honestly, while watching Boy Meets Girl, I couldn’t help but feel as if the movie would start up, only to slow back down again, therefore, killing any sort of momentum it may have had going for itself. Surely the equipment couldn’t have been as stellar as the bigger productions out there, but there’s sometimes no excuse for a movie that feels as if it’s been chopped-down and edited in a frenetic way. Then again, I see many mainstream movies with way bigger budgets have this same problem, so maybe it doesn’t matter too much what it is that I say.
Where Schaeffer really screws up though, is that it runs on way too long; which is definitely saying something considering the movie isn’t over an-hour-and-40-minutes.
For example, there’s an ending to this movie at around the 80-minute mark that makes it seem like all is over and said with, but miraculously, there’s more. Schaeffer doesn’t forget that there are two other people’s story-lines to wrap up and it’s not only a smart move on his part, but works out well for the movie, too. Problem is, it adds on a lot more than it probably should, not to mention, it actually rings a lot more true than the main story-line’s wrap-up. Don’t want to get into any spoilers here, but once certain characters start professing their loves for one another, without it ever seeming to make sense, there was a part of me that felt as if I maybe missed a scene or two while I was checking my watch.
Then, after this, the movie goes on and on, with way moire than a few endings – most of which, mind you, don’t quite work. To me, it felt like Schaeffer wanted to wrap this whole movie up so neat and tidy, that he forget just how many endings it took to get to that neat and tidy ending. And honestly, did the movie ever need one? Probably not, because life is not at all neat or tidy.
Trust me. Hell, trust us all.
Consensus: All pacing and writing issues aside, Boy Meets Girl is equipped with a smart bunch of cast and characters that makes it feel like more than just your average rom-com, that also happens to star a transgender woman playing a transgender woman.
6.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Consequence of Sound