Admitting or not, we’re all longing for a relationship. Whether it’s just pure friendship or a love relationship, we just want it. For us, it might come easier than for others. Sadly, for the young intersex man runaway, only known as “Ponyboi”, it doesn’t come easy. However, his difficult search for love is being turned into a beautiful, sweet and romantic short film from directors River Gallo (“Morgan in Maywood”, “Kandide”) and Sadé Clacken Joseph (“Hats”, “What to Expect”) but at the same time, it’s also one that represents the harsh, cruel and abusive life of an intersex man.
While working in a laundrette in a working-class neighborhood in New Jersey, “Ponyboi” (River Gallo) is dreaming of escaping his life, the insults, and all the men to drive to Las Vegas with his own cowboy. Together with his female colleague “Angel” (Sophie Labelle), he talks about love and men and while “Angel” sees her boyfriend and soon-to-be father Vinnie (Aaron Schwartz) as the perfect man, “Ponyboi” sees his darker and more abuse side. However, one lonely night might turn out to be the best one for “Ponyboi”. Seeing that Cadillac of his dreams outside his door, he can’t wait to see if the cowboy has come along with it. Will he see the “cowboy in shining armour” inside the laundrette or are some dreams just too good to be true?
As you already got “Ponyboi” isn’t an ordinary love story. Yes, there are romantic elements in it such as the lust for love, the intimate interaction and the doubt that comes along with it but the film never becomes the sweet, sticky and over-romantic movie. Especially because of the directors made the fantastic choice to also show the darker side and the abuse that sadly intersex people or any people that are considered “different when it comes to sexuality and gender”. By watching it, it should become clear that everyone deserves some love, no matter who we are, that no one has the right to tell us what to do and that being “different” is not “just a phase”.
Another reason why “Ponyboi” should be on your “to-watch” list is that it made cinematic history. It’s the first narrative film, by and starring an out intersex individual in a film so it’s no wonder that Award-winning actors Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson are two of the executive producers of this film. Just as Fry and Thompson, plenty of film festivals all over the world fell in love with the movie as it was screened during festivals such as the Mardi Gras Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and just very recent he BFI Flare in London. If you didn’t have the change to watch the film during one of those festivals then definitely catch it next time it screens.
Especially because you need to see the stunning performance of River Gallo. When playing any role, empathy and connection with the character are probably the most important elements to pull the performance of the best way possible. As an intersex man himself, River had the real-life experience no one could ever get. His wonderful, funny and charming interaction with Sophie Labelle (“Awaken the Shadowman”, “No Chill”) gives this movie the bright and cheerful sparkle it needs. The rough tough appearance from Schwartz (“Slasher Party”, “Ham on Rye) brings the abusive, egocentric and cheating character trades from Vinny forcefully to the screen. There’s also the beautiful, balanced and wonderful performance for Keith Allan (“Z Nation”, “Star Trek: Enterprise”) but which does he play? Well, that’s for you to find out.
Fingers crossed that “Ponyboi” becomes the turning point for intersex representation in film and also for River Gallo as he deserves all the praise and attention he can get. Together with Joseph and the splendid cast, they made a beautiful, stunning and ground-breaking film.