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Fanfic (2023) Review

This is a review for the 2023 movie “Fanfic”. This Polish Netflix movie follows Tosiek, a transgender man on his journey to self-discovery. While predictable and a bit too starry-eyed, it’s difficult to roll your eyes out of a movie like this coming out of Poland, right now.

What is Fanfic about?

Fanfic (2023) is a fairly by-the-books trans movie. We meet Tosiek as a pre-transitioned female-presenting student. They’re distant from the people around them and are angry at the world. They express their feelings through a “fanfic” that they are writing. I’m not sure if this is a translation issue, but one strange gripe that I have with this movie is that it doesn’t seem to know what a fanfic actually is. A fanfic is a piece of writing that uses established characters or settings from already existing pieces of media. This can range from fanfiction on Lord of the Rings to bizarre celebrity romance novels. The fanfiction that Tosiek is writing is an alternate version of their life. This serves as a plot device to show how their ideal world looks, but it’s not really a fanfic. Anyways…

Tosiek finds themselves falling for the new boy, Leon, who is gay. What follows is a fairly standard journey of self-discovery, mixed in with a love triangle between Tosiek, Leon and another student, Konrad, who has an ongoing thing with Leon.

What’s going on with LGBT rights in Poland?

Over the past few years, LGBT rights have taken a huge step-back in Poland. The Polish government have made it illegal to teach LGBT issues in schools and have made it more difficult for trans people to transition. Over 90 municipalities have declared themselves as “LGBT-free” zones, which doesn’t have any legal standing; but does create a very hostile environment.

As a result, it’s difficult to be too critical of this film. Poland is going through the same culture war that the UK and the United States are currently undergoing, and it’s arguably a lot more brutal. As a result, you have to respect movies like this that come out and say something bold – even if they aren’t bringing much new to the table.

Similar movies to Fanfic

If you’re looking for movies that tackle young people’s struggle regarding gender identity – you’re not as spoiled for choice as you might assume. While TV offers a plethora of good trans representation (such as Jules in HBO’s “Euphoria”) – there aren’t too many trans coming of age stories. Billy Porter’s 2022 movie “Anything’s Possible” is a coming of age story following trans girl Kelsa, which may scratch the same itch than Fanfic did.

Equally, if you’re looking for good trans representation in foreign films – this year’s “Joyland”, from Pakistan, offers an interesting take.

If you’re looking for more coming of age movies (that aren’t related to gender), check out our ultimate list of coming of age movies and our latest review for “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”.

Fanfic (2023) Review

There’s a debate as old as time regarding whether cisgender actors should play transgender characters. I’ve never been too sure about which side to take in that debate. On one hand, having cisgender actors play trans characters furthers the stereotype that trans people are just wearing a costume. Alternatively, given that most trans stories seem to focus on the transition (which is a separate issue); it would be weird to ask a trans person to play the incorrect gender for part of the movie. Imagine my relief upon discovering that Alin Szewczyk (who plays Tosiek) is non-binary, so we can skip this debate entirely.

This movie is very corny and is a lot more Disney Original, than thought-provoking auteur. Every situation is slightly exaggerated and the experiences of transphobia and bigotry feel a bit glamorized compared to real life. Is that a bad thing? No, the movie has a story it wants to tell and it does so. While the plot is fairly standard, there are some interesting decisions made with regard to the cinematography that help this movie stand-out. The “fanfic” sequences are particularly stylistic and give us a lot of insight into Tosiek’s character.

Who should watch Fanfic?

With a relatively short run-time and being available on Netflix, if you enjoy LGBT movies; I’d recommend giving Fanfic a look. Don’t expect anything earth-shattering, but it’s interesting enough and contextually relevant enough to keep you engaged.

This was a review for the 2023 movie “Fanfic”. Did you enjoy this story or do you think you could write a better one? Let us know in the comments below.

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