Supernatural Romance Raises Issues of Race, Gender, and Sexuality

In the new teen romance film “Every Day,” Angourie Rice stars as Rhiannon, a girl who has fallen in love. The object of her affections is a spirit which has no body of its own.

“Every Day” is based upon the New York Times bestselling novel by gay author David Levithan. He wrote the book because he wanted to question gender and sexual presumptions in a way that would be relatable to teens. The spirit who Rhiannon falls in love with, known only as A, wakes up each morning in a different body.

A has no control over whose body it will occupy each day--sometimes it wakes up in a male body, sometimes in a female body. A also finds himself in the bodies of different races: sometimes A is white, sometimes Black, sometimes Asian. At one point in the story A finds itself in the body of a transgender male. A can never inhabit the same body twice.

It is under these conditions that Rhiannon and A carry on their love affair. Rhiannon has fallen in love with A's soul, and never gives a second thought to its gender or race. She kisses A when it's male, and when it's female. She holds its hand when it's Black and when it's white.

“Every Day” tells a highly unusual story and makes no attempt at explaining who A is or how A became a travelling spirit. Audiences are asked to suspend their belief and accept the story at face value. Because of the fine performances of the cast this is an easy thing to do.

A total of fifteen actors play A in its various incarnations. Their performances beautifully convey the loneliness of A's nomadic existence. A doesn't have a name of its own, because A isn't really a person. From day to day it has no idea where it will end up. It has its own memories and is also able to access the memories of its host body each day. A's love for Rhiannon is the only joy it has ever known--the two must find each other every time A wakes up.

Newcomer Rice gives an exceptionally strong performance as a young woman who casually accepts what is. She's given strong dialogue and situations to work with. As the story begins she has a wonderfully romantic afternoon with her boyfriend Justin (Justice Smith). This turns out to be her first meeting with A--the next day Justin, once again in control of his own body, reverts to being his usual inconsiderate, self-absorbed self. When A, who's moved on to another body, comes looking for Rhiannon she's ready to accept what it offers her, because A offers her the love and respect she'll never get from Justin.

“Every Day” is a film that will hopefully inspire audiences to discuss the issues of race and gender which author Levithan questions so eloquently. In this era of sequels, remakes and overblown action films with too much CGI, a quiet and reflective film like “Every Day,” which allows audiences a peek inside its characters' souls, is a breath of fresh air.

Look for Every Day in theaters on Feb, 23.

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