Thursday, February 8, 2018

Transgender time again in Rebekah Fortune's excellent (for awhile) example, JUST CHARLIE

What's to become of a young boy who's very good at soccer and who secretly and with all his/her heart wants to be a girl. You'll find out when you view the new British indie film, JUST CHARLIE, written by Peter Machen and directed by Rebekah Fortune, which, for quite awhile and quite well, explores the difficulties -- family/school/ friends/sports-related -- of someone going through this kind of heavy-duty trauma in which the recipient of one sex knows with every breath that it ought to have been the other.

Ms Fortune (shown at left) and Mr. Machen have done their research but know enough to bury all that within a screenplay that very specifically and cleverly creates a believable world around its main character, the titular Charlie, played with a lovely generosity and sweetness that never curdles by Harry Gilby, shown below.

So believable, in fact, are young Mr. Gilby and all the characters who surround him that the movie, for most of its length, is an easy one to appreciate and admire.

Gilby is pretty enough of face but also a whiz on the soccer field, so much so that he has been chosen to audition for training in the big league. But this gender identity thing grows ever more important and imminent. (That's he in his male attire above, with dad -- played by Scot Williams -- and his soon-to-be female version, below.)

Once the cat is out of the bag for his family, sides are taken, which occurs in school as well. Friends are lost , not just for Charlie but for his family members, too, and all this is handled with surprising truthfulness and precision. So much so, in fact, that we feel the pain, not just of Charlie herself, but that of her family and even some of the friends who are no longer so friendly.

This is all the the movie's credit, and it makes the film seem more real that many of its ilk in which coincidence and the need for a happy ending trump all else.  But then maybe a quarter hour or so from its ending, Just Charlie suddenly changes course, as an angry family member returns too easily to the fold, a florid melodramatic beating takes place (that ought to have put our heroine into a coma) followed by a (sort of) surprise bit of feel-good nonsense.

This is all too bad, for had the film been willing to continue on its small-steps course, it might have been a game changer of sorts. So if you do decide to view Just Charlie, make certain you also see A Fantastic Woman, if only for some ballast.

From Wolfe Video and running 99 minutes, the movie hit the street on DVD and streaming earlier this week -- for purchase and/or rental.

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