It’s a film that positively reeks of good intentions, but it’s so timid and tentative — the words “trans” and “transgender” are never uttered aloud — that it feels as hopelessly retro as casting a cisgender actress in the lead.
Filled with feeling and led by heartfelt performances from Elle Fanning and Naomi Watts, the latest from director Gaby Dellal (Angels Crest) is a warm, rich film in many regards — and yet, there’s a nagging suspicion that, in the attempt to de-emphasise the hot-button topicality, About Ray isn’t ultimately about that much.
The stirring and touching story of three generations of a family living under one roof in New York as they must deal with the life-changing transformation by one that ultimately affects them all. Ray is a teenager who has come to the realization that she isn't meant to be a girl and has decided to transition from female to male. His single mother, Maggie, must track down Ray's biological father to get his legal consent to allow Ray's transition. Dolly, Ray's lesbian grandmother is having a hard time accepting that she now has a grandson. They must each confront their own identities and learn to embrace change and their strength as a family in order to ultimately find acceptance and understanding.