The purpose of many films is to help shine a light on causes great and small and right now shining a light on the struggles of transgender youth has become one of the many issues young people today have to face. No film has better shown a light on this recently than the film Just Charlie from director Rebekah Fortune. The film tells the story of a young soccer star who is struggling with his own identity. He is under a lot of pressure from his parents, particularly his father to be this amazing up and come soccer star so he doesn't have to grow up and be just another factory worker like his dad. While Charlie has a deep love for the game, he struggles with loving himself. Deep down he doesn't feel like a boy and with every passing day, he identifies more and more with being a girl. When the pressures of everyday life finally get too much too bear Charlie must face coming out to his parents and to his small British town about who he really is and who he wants to be. As Charlie's transition begins we see the struggle not only with acceptance from family but from the entire town. Charlie just wants everyone to know that despite what you see on the outside, she is still Just Charlie.
This film was a rollercoaster of emotions. At times you will feel pure joy watching the young woman inside Charlie finally emerge to the surface, but you also feel your heartbreak with the struggles she encounters. There have been few films that have really laid out the struggle that transgender people go through particularly at such a young age. I feel like this film handles the subject matter in a very delicate but powerful way. It is hard enough growing up in the age of social media and 24-hour news, but it is even harder coming to grips with who you are, and even harder still if the inside doesn't match the outside.
This is Rebekah Fortune's feature film directorial debut and she did a phenomenal job here. When asked about making the film she said, " Just Charlie is a film about chasing your dreams and accepting those who are different because - sometimes - the rules on how to love, what you can do, and who you should be, are meant to be broken. This is a story about identity, who we think we are and who we really are. About being true to one's self in the face of terrible adversity." Fortune could not be more spot on and films like this are so important to bring to light the struggle these poor kids go through. We need to bring stories like this one to the mainstream to help broaden the level of acceptance in society and to help people understand what these people are going through. They are not weird or broken, they are human with every bit as much right to be who they are as you or me.
This film could not have had the impact it had without its star played by Harry Gilby. This is his film debut and after seeing his performance here we can only hope to see more of him in the future. Scott Williams who plays Charlie's father is also fantastic in this film. He struggles with wanting to immediately reject something he doesn't understand, but also wanting to love his child is an all too common story. Branching out and opening your mind to other possibilities is never an easy thing, and he really brings a sense of realness to the role. Patricia Potter who plays Charlie's mom is also a breath of fresh air. She is the one who will do anything for her children and stand by them no matter what. She is the epitome of unconditional love.
Just Charlie is definitely a fantastic film that I highly recommend people take a moment to see. It is a simple coming of age story at its core, but it is also a heavy work about understanding and being true to yourself. Films like this deserve to be seen and applauded.
You can check out Just Charlie for yourself on January 30th on DVD and Video on Demand on all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo and WolfeOnDemand.com and many major retailers.