A Coming of Age Story
“Real Boy” is the coming-of-age story of Bennett Wallace Gwizdalski, a transgender teenager on a journey to find his voice-as a musician, as a friend, as a son, and as a man. As he goes through young adulthood, he works to gain the love and support of his mother, who has deep misgivings about her child’s transition. Along the way, he forges a powerful friendship with his idol, Joe Stevens, a celebrated transgender musician who has his own demons to fight.
We meet Bennett when he is a charismatic 19-year-old with dreams of musical stardom. The film follows Bennett through the first two years of his gender transition from female to male as he learns to deal with newfound sobriety and struggles to repair a strained relationship with his mother. He seeks support and mentorship from his musical hero transgender folk singer, Joe Stevens. We watch Bennett as he grows from a teen with problems into a young man who has confidence and as he changes, so do those who are close to him.
Joe supports Bennett when his mother cannot but relapses into active addiction and shakes the foundation his relationship with Bennett. Eventually Bennett’s mother, Suzy, works through her shame and confusion to embrace and celebrate her son. And as Bennett matures and his relationships shift, he chronicles his process in his music and writes raw and catchy songs that we hear on the soundtrack.
While this is a film about a girl who becomes a boy but even more than that it is a film about a young person overcoming addiction and finding his voice — as a friend, a son, a musician, and a man.