If you had any doubts that trans actors could convincingly play cis characters, Patti Harrison is here to blow those doubts out of the water in the new Sundance film Together Together.
From writer-director Nikole Beckwith, Together Together follows the unlikely friendship that forms between a middle-aged man named Matt (Ed Helms), and the 26-year-old woman who becomes his gestational surrogate, Anna, played by Harrison in what should be a star-making role.
Harrison, who you may know for her work on Shrill, Search Party, and writing for the latest season of Big Mouth. She's usually a hilarious, deadpan weirdo, but here in Together Together, she also brings a lot of weight and seriousness to her role. She's able to masterfully swing from expressive to deadpan whenever she needs to, making the dramatic scenes hit equally hard as her comedic ones.
Harrison really is beautiful, funny, talented, and amazing. She reminds me of Mary Elizabeth Winstead or a young Salma Hayak. When she's given the space to act, like she is in this movie, she can do anything.
The movie is also deeply queer throughout. It's all about making your own family, no matter how unconventional that family is or what those around you think. The cast is also filled with queer actors and characters with the likes of Tig Notaro, Julio Torres, and Anna Konkle playing smaller roles. Nearly everyone in the surrogate mother programs that Matt and Annie are a part of are queer couples.
Notaro plays a droll couples' counselor who talks with Anna and Matt as the pregnancy advances. Torres is responsible for a lot of the film's biggest laughs as Anna's coworker -- which is understandable if you know any of his work,-- and Konkle makes one of the most memorable scenes as a new age birthing coach. But it comes in a wave of similar casting decisions.
Recently, trans actors like Rebecca Root, Jake Graf, and Indya Moore have played cis or cis-assumed characters in movies. Moore played Goddess in Lena Waithe's debut film as a writer, Queen and Slim, whose gender is never brought up. Graf and Root both appeared in Colette as real-life historical cis people, with Root playing novelist and playwright Marguerite Vallette-Eymery, and Graf playing playwright Gaston Arman de Caillavet.
That's not the only time Root has played cis. In the The Sisters Brothers, she plays Mayfield, the owner of a hotel and brothel in the Old West. More recently, she played Miss Lionsdale, a singing teacher whose gender isn't mentioned in The Queen's Gambit.
This is the future trans liberals want. We want to see trans actors not only getting cis roles like this, but completely nailing them. We want to see them not being the only LGBTQ+ actors in the movie. The future of trans Hollywood includes trans actors getting all the opportunities cis actors get. Maybe after a few dozen more movies like this we can revisit the conversation of cis actors playing trans roles.