Boy Meets Girl: My Experience at Reelout

This year at Reelout I attended Eric Schaeffer’s Boy Meets Girl, which follows Ricki (Michelle Hendley), a transgender girl navigating her way through life and relationships while pursuing her dreams of fashion school. The film begins with Ricki pondering the idea of a relationship with a woman after stating that there are no eligible men left in town. The audience is simultaneously introduced to Robby (Michael Welch), Ricki’s childhood best friend. Throughout the course of the movie, Robby is shown to be an unconditional supporter and friend to Ricki. In walks the beautiful upper class Francessca (Alexandra Turshen) who is engaged to military man David (Michael Galante). Francessca and Ricki share an immediate connection, which eventually leads to the two of them exploring their sexual identities together. Roby is forced to address his feelings for Ricki as he watches her relationship with Francessca unfold.

Although Hendley is relatively new to the screen, which comes across in her delivery, her chemistry with seasoned Welch sets the stage for very genuine conversations about relationship labels and acceptance. Not only does the film explore issues of gender and sexuality, but also examines how social systems and classism impact Ricki. In one particularly poignant scene Ricky laments that she was “born in the wrong body and the wrong town”. Although the film only really shows us loving, supportive friends and family, there is an implication that growing up in a small town in Kentucky was not easy and that there is likely a strong preference towards heteronormativity in the community.

The film admirably juxtaposes Francessca and Ricki’s exploration of their sexuality in regards to both their physical bodies and class status. On the surface, both Ricki and Francessca identify as female and are exploring intimate relationships with another female. When compared to Francessca, is becomes clear how much more difficult it is for Ricki to navigate and label these new relationships as her body does not “match” with her gender. The film exemplifies gendered bodies being a mediated product of society, as discussed in lecture.

Overall, Schaeffer does an excellent job of seamlessly shifting the tone from heartfelt to comedic, in order to open the stage to discussing issues of sexuality and gender in a light hearted manner. Although the film does not address the intersectionality of race and gender, since all of the characters are white In its entirety, the film reflects gender and sexual orientation as existing on a spectrum. The film focuses on the relationships that exist simply between two “humans” as Ricki eloquently labels it, regardless of gender and biological sex. Although the script follows the standard romantic comedy storyline, it is almost to the film’s benefit as the viewer is given the opportunity to see that we are all faced with the same complexities of love and friendship even with fluid notions of gender.

I found that the notion of gender as a socially constructed product was perfectly illustrated in the scene following Ricki and Francessca’s sexual encounter. Ricki and Roby are in the car discussing what to label both Francessca and Ricki’s sexuality. Although the two women have experienced physiologically heterosexual intercourse, they both identify as woman. Roby and Ricki argue over whether labels of heterosexuality or homosexuality would apply in the circumstances as well as in parallel hypothetical sexual encounters. During this scene I also found myself attempting to categorize the nature of their sexual encounter and the characters’ sexual identity. I think that this authentic exchange between Ricki and Roby was meant to leave the audience with more questions than answers in an attempt to demonstrate the complexity of labels we attempt to apply in our society.

On particularly ironic component of my experience, was when I was redirected from the Reelout site to Ticketscene in order to purchase my ticket. It was very salient when I was asked to identify as a male or female on the Ticketscene website, a forced binary that I was acutely aware of. In all honesty, what was even more striking was that I even noticed. In terms of positionality, as a cisgendered woman I’ve never had to question these dichotomous gender labels since I “fit” into them. Even before attending the actual film, my perspectives and conscious awareness of the intersectionality of gender and society were changing as a result of attending Reelout.

Attending Reelout was certainly not something I would have done of my own volition. In theory, the whole concept seemed completely out of my comfort zone. In practice however, the experience of attending the festival was fantastic and completely in a zone of familiarity. I ended up choosing a heartfelt film with universal themes of understanding and acceptance that are relatable to any audience irrespective of gender and sexual orientation.

– Tiffanygenders


3 thoughts on “Boy Meets Girl: My Experience at Reelout

  1. I really liked your analysis and appreciated all of the complex details of the relationships and storyline that you outlined. Sounds like an interesting film!
    Seeing gender and sexual orientation as a continuum or spectrum (or perhaps just between humans without any form of label as you’ve mentioned) instead of the hetero-normative, hegemonic binary categories seems to really be explored by the characters and their connections as well as what we’ve covered in the course this semester. The scene and your attempts to categorize and figure out where Ricki and Francessca’s relationship fit into the existing categories is really insightful. This does help to point out the complexity of the labels of society, but I think it also shows how any binary is ultimately inadequate and stigmatizes those who don’t fit into them instead of being representable of people’s actual lived experiences and identities.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts!
    – kt22


  2. I also attended this film at Reelout, so it was very interesting to read another review/analysis of it in comparison to mine. Overall I feel that your review was very well written, in the sense that you have addressed everything that needed to be addressed, and have gone even beyond that. Good job referencing race despite the fact that it was not something that was really addressed in the film (like you said, everyone was white in the movie). I like how you discussed thoughts and ideas that you were having during the film, and I think it was interesting how you addressed the question of identification on the Ticketscene website, as that was not something I even noticed or thought about. Well done!



  3. Although I did not attend this film I felt as though after reading through your review I had a firm grasp on the series of events that occurred throughout the film as well as Ricki’s journey to understanding her own sexuality. I thought you did a fantastic job of describing the gender socialization that is displayed in this film and how the film challenges the stereotypes of male and female behaviour. The scene in which Ricki and Francessca having sex really got me thinking as I had never considered before reading your review how you would potentially define whether it was hetero or homosexual circumstances. I feel as though this scene really enforced the films whole purpose of going beyond labels and concrete definitions of sexuality. Great review!


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