20-year-old Paul hasn’t much going for him, so leaving Pittsburgh isn’t a big and dramatic move. It’s just about trying to get his s*** together. However, with his half-sister, Sara, not trying to be there for him, Paul finds himself becoming part of the family Lee has made for a bunch of guys who harass immigrants and people on the verge of eviction. Now, is Paul proud of this job? No. However, it pays, and Lee provides him a place to sleep at night.
But when Paul meets Wye and is introduced to a chosen family based on love, support, and expectation of being at your best, this causes a shift in him. Especially because Wye is this dynamic girl whose smile entrances him and makes it, so he struggles to continue to be the type of person Lee is molding him to be. Thus, ultimately, Paul finds himself at a crossroads between who Wye sees him as and who Lee wants him to be.
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
Reason(s) for Film Rating: Brief nudity, homo-averse language and violence, and implied sex
Wye & Paul
One of the things you appreciate off the bat when it comes to Wye and Paul isn’t only their chemistry but also that neither have a real advantage over the other. Yes, Paul might be white and cis, but he is also homeless and working for a jerk to keep a roof over his head. And while Wye might be a trans woman, she has a home, an adopted family, and a future. So you don’t get an imbalanced power dynamic. Wye and Paul may have different issues, but they are in the same boat.
Because of this, it makes their intimacy all the more sweeter, for they choose each other for reasons beyond ego, desperation, or any need beyond love. Thus making it when you watch Wye lay her head on Paul’s lap, there is a sweetness there which is neither corny nor forced. It feels like two people truly sharing a moment. And even in sex scenes, as tame as you may see them as, and you perhaps questioning Wye’s reasons for forgiving Paul so easily, it pushes you to remember how many passes are given to people who are in your heart. So rather than see Wye as simply a fool, you realize she is a fool in love, and while Paul stumbles, it’s mainly since he is working on a learning curve and struggling to be deserving of Wye’s love and investment.
Even if you aren’t into ball culture, you have to admit the high energy, emcee necessary music tempts you to vogue, even if in an amateur way. For that rhythm just creeps into your neck, flows into your arms, and helps you realize why ballroom has long had a place in LGBT+ culture. It is a party, a family reunion, and a competition—all with the best music to dance to imaginable.
No Violence Coming To Wye
Trauma plays way too big of a part in LGBT+ stories. If it isn’t violence, it is watching them dehumanized and embarrassed in public. All of which makes it so when introduced to Wye, as well as Lee? It makes you wonder whether Paul will be put into that familiar scenario where he is asked whether he knows Wye or to stand up for her, and he not only drops the ball but denies her existence.
Well, spoiler, that doesn’t happen. No physical harm comes to Wye, and instead, she gets to experience a romance that is complicated more by Paul trying to front and seem worthy of her than her gender identity. This isn’t to say the film is completely void of unnecessary violence, but if you feared anything happening to Wye beyond potentially a broken heart, you’re fine.
On The Fence
The Ending Has An Ellipsis
Beyond the drama that is Paul being in love with a woman who has her act together far more than him, other things are going on. Mainly, issues Lee and the other boys he looks out for cause, and the film ends with Paul doing something about it, but it not being 100% clear what the results of him standing up to Paul are. Note, we get the consequence of the betrayal and see how he tries to move on, but certain questions remain unanswered.
While parts of the ending may not satisfy all, even as Paul faces the consequences, for the most part, Port Authority is the perfect way to start PRIDE month. It features a beautiful and dynamic trans woman as its lead, who isn’t written in such a way to make being trans the sum of her whole character, and she is in this complicated at times but primarily beautiful relationship. One based on the need to feel seen, loved, cared for, and not due to lust or pride. Thus wrapping you up in as envious of a romance as you have ever seen, even when Paul, being the typical guy, screws up.
Hence the recommended label. Port Authority has enough drama, romance, and LGBT+ culture to both standout and show its universal appeal.
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