SXSW 2024: I Wish You All the Best – Wondeful filmmaking

Tommy Dorfman’s SXSW 2024 directorial debut, ‘I Wish You All the Best,’ presents a poignant and groundbreaking narrative within LGBTQ+ cinema. Adapted from Mason Deaver’s novel, the film follows Ben DeBacker, portrayed with depth by Corey Fogelmanis, a nonbinary teenager grappling with the complexities of identity and family acceptance.

The film opens with a gripping scene as Ben courageously comes out to their parents, only to face rejection and abandonment. Rendered in flashes, the conversation adds a suspenseful layer to the heart-wrenching moment. Alone and vulnerable, Ben reaches out to their estranged sister Hannah, played with compassion by Alexandra Daddario, for assistance.

Hannah promptly comes to Ben’s aid, transporting them to her home in Raleigh, where they encounter her husband Thomas, portrayed by Cole Sprouse. As Ben adjusts to their new environment, they find solace in unexpected friendships, including the outgoing Nathan, portrayed by Miles Gutierrez-Riley, and the artsy duo Meleika and Sophie, played by Lexi Underwood and Lisa Yamada, respectively.

What distinguishes ‘I Wish You All the Best’ from traditional coming-of-age dramas is its focus on the internal journey of its protagonist. Rather than relying on contrived plotlines, the film delves into Ben’s emotional landscape with honesty and authenticity. Fogelmanis delivers a breakthrough performance, capturing the nuances of Ben’s journey with sensitivity and depth.

Director Tommy Dorfman, a trans woman, brings a fresh perspective to the genre. They eschew clichés in favor of a more nuanced portrayal of nonbinary identity. By highlighting themes of hope and community, Dorfman offers a refreshing take on the coming-out narrative that celebrates self-expression and found families.

‘I Wish You All the Best’ also benefits from a stellar supporting cast, including Lena Dunham as the empathetic art teacher who inspires Ben to embrace their true self. With a soundtrack featuring trans and nonbinary artists like Sophie and Shamir, the film embraces its cultural relevance while remaining true to its characters’ experiences.

‘I Wish You All the Best’ is a triumph of inclusive storytelling, offering a compelling exploration of identity, acceptance, and belonging. With its groundbreaking portrayal of a nonbinary protagonist and its commitment to authenticity, the film marks a significant milestone in LGBTQ+ representation in cinema. Through its heartfelt narrative and compelling performances, ‘I Wish You All the Best’ resonates with audiences, serving as a powerful testament to the importance of embracing one’s true self and finding acceptance in a world that often struggles to understand.

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