(CANNES, France) – Ever loved someone from a different category as you? Different colors, different creeds and backgrounds can separate a lot of us from a lot of other us. How do we respond, what do we do, if cupid strikes? In Danielle Lessovitz film “Port Authority” two teenagers, Paul and Wye, belong to different social groups in New York City’s downtown and outer-boroughs. Paul (British actor Fionn Whitehead), a born-to-be-wild glint in the eye, just moved to the city and Wye (Leyna Bloom), a transgender, is a dancer in what’s known as a house, a kind of chapter for LGTBQ dancers. They organize competitions, there are cash prizes, they support each other. White heterosexuals like Paul are uncommon in this milieu. He’s on parole, takes up a job as mover and sleeps at the homeless shelter for juveniles. To Paul the naïve, soft-headed provincial, New York City is a potential feast of unrealized desires. He falls in love with Wye.
Lessovitz’s film is a ride down a transgressive, grimy New York City that real estate developers and hedge fund managers and Rudy Giuliani have worked tirelessly, these last twenty years, to make us forget. The New York City of today is, in a lot of crucial places, a glossed-out and tourist-friendly version. But neighborhoods in the East Village, Chinatown, the area around Penn Station still recall the city’s former demimonde, when sex shops dotted Broadway to infinity, Warhol held court at the Factory and the meatpacking district really was the meatpacking district.
Let’s not forget Port Authority, where Paul first notices Wye. As the first signs of infatuation appear, the pressures of their respective environments force Paul and Wye to acclimate. Wye takes a more frank approach to their unusual arrangements. Paul creates a fantasy story, in an attempt at keeping up an appearance. Dance numbers, vibrant manifestations of youth, punctuate the film. Paul watches the members of the LGBTQ house, Wye especially, in amazement. When he finds out that Wye is a transvestite, what will he do?
With a realistic, purified approach Lessovitz appropriates the teenagers’ narrative and makes no moral judgments. The real story isn’t about social differences, however, but about love. “Port Authority” is a very pleasurable film to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lessovitz took home a prize.