If you're at all tuned in to the LGBT film scene, you may have heard a little something about Mark Ruffalo's milquetoast defense of the upcoming film Anything, for which Ruffalo has a producing credit, when it was announced that a transgender woman character was going to be played by Matt Bomer, a cisgender man. Cisgender actors playing transgender characters has been award aspiration shorthand for productions that have little to no understanding of the kinds of characters they're portraying. Jared Leto and Eddie Redmayne were nominated for Oscars for doing just that, and Leto took home the prize in a performance that was more caricature than character study. So the notion that once again the transgender community was going to be shut out from telling their own stories was disheartening to say the least.
Now we have the first trailer for Anything, and the result is… well, take a look:
Folks, I'm really not feeling this. Sure, the trailer bends over backwards to show that Anything has its heart in the right place as far as trans acceptance and sex work positivity are concerned, except you really can't escape the fact that Bomer seems to be portraying the concept of trans-ness rather than any sort of character beyond that identity. It's hard to watch this and not wonder what a transgender actress would have brought to the role, let alone what actual transgender inclusion would have done to push against the bigoted notion that trans women are merely men in dresses and makeup. It's also pretty disconcerting that Bomer's character Freda seems to be little more than a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for a depressed John Carroll Lynch, casting Freda in a supporting role to a man who can only grow from her sage trans street wisdom.
I don't know, gang. Two and a half minutes isn't a whole lot of time to get a feel for the sorts of nuances a film could delve into, but what's shown here is not terribly encouraging for those of us who saw Bomer's initial casting as a red flag. Anything opens on May 11, so make of that what you will.