The oft-used expression "love is love" is given a thorough and quite beautiful workout by writer-director Eric Schaeffer in the captivating "Boy Meets Girl." The profoundly sensitive, often wryly funny look at friendship, romance, sexual attraction and gender identity carries themes and dynamics that feel as timeless as they do up-to-the-minute.
Ricky (Michelle Hendley), a young transgender woman living in rural Kentucky with her supportive dad (Randall Newsome) and swell kid brother (Joseph Ricci), is marking time as a barista while awaiting news of her admission to a New York fashion school.
By turns forthright and self-possessed, insecure and vulnerable, Ricky spends much of her free time with childhood pal Robby (Michael Welch), a jaunty, womanizing mechanic who's always been at ease with Ricky's sexuality. (Their repartee, particularly in a discussion about sex, is often hilarious.)
Enter Francesca (Alexandra Turshen), a pretty, seemingly wide-eyed local debutante who takes a shine to Ricky, first as an intriguing new friend and later as more. But Francesca's soldier fiancé, Michael (Michael Galante), is none too keen on her friendship with Ricky for reasons that will intriguingly go beyond his surface transphobia.
How these four small-town folks navigate their criss-crossing relationships takes up most of this lovely story, one which brims with credible, enormously heartfelt emotion. There are also several well-handled reveals.
The cast is first-rate, especially Hendley, a transgender actress making a memorable debut, and Welch, whose warmth, "down-home" charm and deft comic timing are a pleasure.
"Boy Meets Girl."
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.