Gossamer Folds @ Oxford Film Festival

Lisa Donato’s (her debut) film is a film of layers….light ones which turn out to be something a little bit more upon further investigation…kinda lives up to its title. The Gossamer Folds alluded to not only appearing in the scenes in the bridal shop but also as the title character earns her living at her sewing machine. Though some might see this as a light kind of film there is plenty going on underneath the surface.

In 1986 10-year-old Tate (Jackson Robert Scott – from television’s Wandavision) is unhappy with his family’s move from Chicago to a smaller suburb around Kansas City. That unhappiness is amplified as his parents’ marriage seems to be rocky. After some initial hesitation, Tate makes friends with the next door neighbours – Gossamer (Alexandra Grey – appeared in episodes of Empire and How to Get Away With Murder) and her father Edward (Franklin Ojeda Smith – appeared in episodes of The Wire and Nurse Jackie). This despite his father (Shane West – A Walk to Remember, The Lodger) being not thrilled to be living next door to a “tranny” and “faggot”. Words which Tate does not find in the dictionary he is always carrying around.

As his parents’ marriage finally does fall apart with the news of his father having a baby with a woman he works with, Tate’s mother (Sprague Grayden – Paranormal Activity 2, Dad) takes to her bed for a few days. This means that Tate spends more time next door. He and Gossamer get even closer.

While Gossamer seems to be a happy person on the surface, she isn’t truly. She dreams of a different kind of life. A life where she doesn’t have to be concerned for her safety and finds a community she would be a part of. As such Gossamer dreams of moving to New York City to ply her trade as a costume designer.

When Gossamer does disappear and does not return, this causes plenty of worry for her father and Tate. Both miss her for different reasons, but slowly begin to realize that she might have left for a better life.

While the ending of the film is a little awkward, overall it is a solid effort made better by the performances of the two leads – Scott and Grey. Both exhibit a rather natural air to their characters. Making it all seem natural and “normal”. Totally believable as friends of different generations.

Charming and touching, Donato brings the story along at a natural pace. Natural is the name of the game here. As the film goes about trying to normalize transgender people. How the smart and curious Tate does not ever really even notice that there is something different about Gossamer. Just accepts her as she is. The only indication that there is something “different” about Gossamer is when Tate sees a photo of Gossamer as a child and asks Edward if she was born as a boy and why she is living life as a woman. Asking the question of why we all cannot be like young people and accept how others are. Not make others feel like outsiders.

Outsiders. That is what Tate and Gossamer feel like. For different reasons, but both feeling like they aren’t where they want to be. Seeking their places in the world. Finding guidance and caring in the other at a time when each needs it.

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