What are parents to do when a four-year-old son insists on donning fairy tale costumes and feminine dress? Director Silas Howard, working with a screenplay by Daniel Pearle based on a play that he wrote, has tackled the gender-bending issue in a film, set in Brooklyn, that focuses on the adult difficulties in facing the fact that they may have a son who really wants to be a girl or feels that he is one.
The crisis begins when they want to enter him into a pre-school class. Their friend, Judy, who is supervisor of the school, is played with warmth but firmness by Octavia Spencer. She urges them to face Jake’s behavior rather than try to hide from it.
We see a bit of Jake, cutely played by Leo James Davis, and primarily he is determined to do what he wants regardless of parental control. As for his parents, they are portrayed by Claire Danes as Jake’s mom, Alex, and Jim Parsons as his dad, Greg.
Alex is most gripped by denial, but Greg, a therapist, exhibits a bit more understanding. The complexity of the situation begins to grate on their marriage. Despite the good acting and the solemnity of the issue, one can lose patience with the persistent upset and refusal to face reality. The film doesn’t show us what happens in the future, but finally, at the end we see Alex and Greg trying to give Jake his freedom to dress as he (or she) pleases. An IFC Films release. Reviewed June 1, 2018.