“Just Charlie” – a trans teen coming of age film
JUST CHARLIE traces with nuance and sensitivity one young person’s struggle with gender identity through the lens of a gritty, sports loving blue-collar community and a tough family struggling to accept it. Set in Tamworth, a gritty, small working class Midland town in the UK, teenage soccer star Charlie and his family see soccer as a way out of a dead end factory life for him. But Charlie is struggling with gender dysphoria, and is torn between his father’s expectations and shedding his male identity. With dramatic yet surprising results for himself, his family, and his community, Charlie begins a gender transition while continuing to pursue the dream of becoming a soccer star.
This story is more than the harsh struggles and reality of a teenager struggling with gender dysphoria. It’s about a family struggling with these issues. As with all coming of age youth, questioning begins to arise as bodies mature and feelings develop, unknown and undiscovered territory. It’s difficult for any youth to navigate the waters into teen land, and then adulthood. Add to this, the internal feelings of not fitting into society because of struggles to accept one’s body, and this is where family becomes a necessary foundation of support.
Charlie (Harry Gilby) is your “typical” boy growing up, playing sports, handing out with his buddies, and bonding with his dad. The only thing is that he has a secret that he’s keeping to himself, until one day he can no longer. He finally breaks down and tells his parents and sister. In true fashion of what is often “typical” in these situations, mother and sister are more accepting than father. As with the majority of similar situations, it’s the struggling individual who has to be brave enough to speak out, offering explanations, and standing up for themselves, while others must either adapt and accept or live with prejudice and ignorance.
After deciding to transition, her mother takes her to counselling, and looks at the possibility of playing for the girls soccer team, rather than the boys which she was an ace athlete previously. The school coach is most understanding of the situation and works to make this happen, despite the obvious objections of some students and parents. Charlie loses some friends along the way, but gains stronger friendships with others. The same happens to her family members, with her sister having to defend her, and her father being the subject of shame within the small community. There’s one scene of transphobic violence in the movie that makes it that much more realistic, but in the end we see a family who has struggled and survived.
This is the feature film directorial debut of theatre and television actress / director Rebekah Fortune. Inspired by emotional real life accounts from transgender communities, she says, “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 ones self in the face of terrible adversity.”
2017 | Drama | 99 min | UK | Color | English
Directed by: Rebekah Fortune
Writer: Peter Machen
Starring: Harry Gilby, Scot Williams, Patricia Potter, Karen Bryson, Ewan Mitchell, Joshua Pascoe
Distributed by: Wolfe
JUST CHARLIE is released January 30th in the U.S. and Canada via Wolfe on DVD & VOD and across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand and WolfeOnDemand.com, and many major retailers.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.