Port Authority rises to the challenge of offering trans actors layered, nuanced roles by introducing audiences to Wye, the young woman who becomes Paul's love interest. Their characters -- a White man experiencing hard times despite having a relatively posh sister, and a young trans woman of color who has to endure the hardships of life with a smile -- might not have crossed paths outside of a movie. But writer-director Danielle Lessovitz allows these two star-crossed lovers to meet and change each other's lives -- alhough Paul's life seems more changed by Wye's influence than vice versa. When they meet, circumstances have led to him living and working with homophobic toughs who do shady work collecting money from and evicting immigrants. The group's ringleader, Lee, takes Paul under his wing -- but Wye's influence prompts Paul to question what he thinks about love, sexuality, gender, and family.
Port Authority made history at the Cannes Film Festival: Bloom was the first trans woman of color in a lead role at a major festival. As Wye, she is both beautiful (Bloom, who also works as a model, was the first trans woman of color to cover Vogue India) and captivating, delivering an understated character study. But elements of the script let Wye down as a character. While her nuanced performance helps her escape coming across as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, she's still a female character whose main contribution to the story is to transform Paul from a wayward, lost, cowardly person into one who stands up for family and friends. Wye's chosen family, the House of McQueen, is also portrayed with a voyeuristic eye, albeit one that sees the value and worth in Black and Brown LGBTQ+ life. As a whole, these characters aren't as fleshed out as they could be, but you can see their humanity shining through. Also important: The love scene between Wye and Paul is tastefully done, a crucial point given how trans bodies are often still objectified and exploited in the media and in real life. Overall, while there are some spots where the script and characterization could have been stronger, Port Authority advances Hollywood and audiences forward with a meaningful story about love and personal growth.