The massive success of Jill Soloway’s “Transparent” offered a foot in the door for many trans actors, writers, and directors to get a first legitimate credit in Hollywood. Episode director Silas Howard directed Octavia Spencer in “A Kid Like Jake”; writer Our Lady J is a writer and producer on “Pose”; and actress Trace Lysette’s star is about to reach new heights when she appears opposite Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers.”
Now, we can add Rhys Ernst to the list of trans Hollywood elite to come out of the school of Soloway. A visual artist and filmmaker, Ernst makes his feature filmmaking debut with “Adam,” a YA romantic-comedy with an unusual twist.
The movie, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, packs a number of rising stars in its ranks. Margaret Qualley, who will next appear in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” costars in the film, while newcomer Nicholas Alexander and “I Love Dick” actor Bobbi Salvör Menuez play the two romantic leads.
Based on the YA novel by lesbian graphic novelist Ariel Schrag (whose cult following is rivaled only by Alison Bechdel’s), the movie follows a hapless teenage virgin who pretends to be a trans guy in order to date a queer girl. The book was controversial among certain queer circles, but Ernst and Schrag (who wrote the screenplay) have clearly tempered some of the more questionable choices made in the book.
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The official synopsis reads: “Awkward, self-conscious Adam Freeman (Alexander) has just finished his junior year of high school in 2006. When his cool older sister Casey (Qualley) suggests he visit her in New York for the Summer, Adam has visions of meeting a girl and finally gaining some actual life experience. The fantasy doesn’t materialize exactly as expected. Casey has enthusiastically embraced life amidst Brooklyn’s young LGBTQ community and invites Adam to tag along with her to queer bars, marriage equality rallies and other happenings. When Adam falls at first sight for Gillian (Menuez), a smart, beautiful young woman in this new crowd, she mistakenly assumes he is trans. Flummoxed and enamored, he haplessly goes along with her assumption, resulting in an increasingly complex comedy — and tragedy — of errors he’s ill-equipped to navigate.”
“Adam” was produced by James Schamus (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Dallas Buyers Club”) and Howard Gertler (“How to Survive a Plague,” “Shortbus”).
Wolfe Video will release “Adam” in theaters in New York on August 14 and Los Angeles on August 23. Check out the trailer for “Adam” below.