Port Authority Image

Port Authority

By Hanna B. | October 31, 2019

Paul is delighted and captivated by their dancing skills, attitudes, and is completely blown away when he attends his first ball. Like in a fairy tale, all this seems magical to him- and the cinematography makes it looks so on-screen with all the colors, neon lights, and glitter. He wants to belong to this community full of warmth and laughter, like the family he never had. And so, he starts to let loose and come to an acceptance that men like him don’t necessarily need to be like Lee & Co. In one of the film’s funniest moments, Paul even asks Wye if he can walk a ‘white boy realness’ category!

However, despite her truthfulness, natural gentleness, and openness, Paul feels the need to lie about his circumstances by pretending to live with his well-off sister and doing a proper job. Accordingly, as he gets closer to Wye, he distances himself to Lee’s gang, and the lies on both ends catch up with him. Therefore, eventually, these two worlds collide.

“The film is from the point of view of ‘the other,’ or everything is viewed through an outsider’s eyes to this subculture…”

At some point, after a first argument, Wye reveals herself as a transsexual to Paul. It is very obvious for everyone from the first scene, but it is oddly a “BIG” twist for Paul! And, like Wye calling out this nonsense by telling him to look around and not just ‘see things on the surface,’ viewers will have to decide whether Paul was just a naive out-of-town, unaware of the queer subcultures, or simply so completely taken by her beauty that he did not question her identity. From there, Paul will also begin to question his heteronormative norms and preconceptions.

There is genuinely fantastic chemistry between the new lovers. In fact, some might say there is an air of “2019 Romeo and Juliet.” We are presented with two main characters from conflicting backgrounds and an almost forbidden love – or love made impossible by their respective peers, family, or ‘house.’ Although the ending is very different from the classic, and there is nothing really Shakespearean in Port Authority (well expect maybe from few “balcony scenes”!), this love story is or should be an important one. Besides, the director notes that it is also one of the rare occasions where a trans character happened to be a fully-fleshed love interest with a “normal life.” Wye is also not carrying the burden of the film (the burden is on Paul, who needs to find acceptance), and she is not a sex worker. It is indeed still quite unusual considering trans are more than often portrayed as such on-screen. In a way, it also reminds us that it is also sadly the case in real life as it is hard for trans men, women, and gender non-conforming folks to get jobs. It echoes what Patricia Arquette passionately pleaded in her recent Emmy win speech: “Let’s give them a job!”

Port Authority (2019)

Directed and Written: Danielle Lessovitz

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Leyna Bloom, McCaul Lombardi, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Port Authority Image

"…a love story sets in New York between two people from opposite worlds."

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