Ed Asner plays Dr. Cleary, a psychiatrist whose job is to interview and assess those who wish to go through gender reassignment procedures. He initially comes off a bit cantankerous, but as the story progresses, we see that he cares deeply and wants to make sure his patients make the right decisions for their physical and mental health. Alex Kurtz plays Jason, Tina’s love interest. He’s a hard character to root for, as he shows affection and love privately for Tina but shuns her in public, but his scenes are well-acted, and you’ll find yourself rooting for him to make positive changes. Tamara M. Williams plays Carol, Tina’s best friend. She motivates Tina to take a more proactive attitude towards trans community activism after one of their own is brutally assaulted. Williams is definitely one of the film’s highlights, as her onscreen repertoire is fun and compelling to watch. One character I definitely have issues with is Chris (played by Anthony Abdo), a bodega clerk who has a very pivotal role in the film’s climax. I don’t have any problem with Abdo as an actor, I just think his character is a little underdeveloped. He’s mostly silent, and his role in the film is so critical, I just wish we could have spent more time with him and learned more about him. I feel like it would have been more impactful if we either had no prior introduction to the character until his reprehensible actions, or the film would have spent more time exploring his thoughts and prejudices. As it stands, I feel like his character’s arc was definitely the weakest.
“…an engaging script that makes most of the characters, who are actually played by real-life trans women…”
The Garden Left Behind is amazing and poignant, but the ending fell flat for me. I just think there wasn’t enough build-up to it. Throughout the film, there’s always a sense of dread surrounding Tina and her friends. Another one of the best parts of this film is a tense scene where someone offers to buy Tina’s for sale car that has a malevolent feel to it. This expertly puts the film’s audience on edge and makes you concerned for Tina’s safety You understand the challenges she faces every day as a minority, and it pains the heart knowing that these dangers are things the trans community endures on a daily basis. When the film reaches its climax however, I just felt that things felt rushed and a bit unearned. Maybe that’s what the film’s director was aiming for? It certainly is impactful as previously stated, but to me, it just didn’t work. Regardless of how I felt about the ending, The Garden Left Behind is an amazing drama filled to the brim with realistic and heavy performances that will absolutely leave a lasting impression and subject matter that should more commonly be explored and celebrated. This film is special, and it deserves mass audience attention.
"…filled to the brim with realistic and heavy performances that will absolutely leave a lasting impression..."