By Ray Kirsch
The blonde, brooding, “I can fix him” man epidemic (re: Draco Malfoy, Tom Blyth, need I go on?) does not stop in the United States and England. I present to you my fall fixation and recent revisitation: Fanfik.
No, I’m not talking about fanfiction. Fanfik is a 2023 Polish film that follows Tosiek (formerly known as Tosia) as he discovers and accepts his gender identity. The main character does write some fanfiction—so unabashedly publicly, too—but it is merely an unnecessary side plot. Tosiek is played by Alin Szewczyk, a Polish non-binary actor and model.
Tosiek is seen by his peers and his family as an outsider, of sorts. His mother is dead, he’s taking his father’s medication secretly and all he wants to do is write fanfiction. He seems to like the online reception he receives from his fanfiction rather than in-person connections… at least until a new boy at school appears. Leon, played by Jan Cięrciara, is a new student that was kicked out of his house for being gay. Naturally, Tosiek and Leon fall in love after many twists and turns.
Perhaps one of the most heart-stopping moments of this film was the scene in which Tosiek first cut his hair. He had gotten in a fight with his father, locked him out of the bathroom and decided to impulsively cut his hair in the sink. Relatable, right? Afterward, he storms out to Leon’s house and has Leon fix his hair. Leon cooks him noodles and invites him to a party, and Tosiek has a blissful night of gender euphoria.
Whenever I view a queer-centric movie, I particularly like to watch for the “show, don’t tell” aspect. All movies with queer and transgender characters shouldn’t exist just to teach the general public what being queer or transgender means. Tosiek does not explain his identity to a single person in the movie; he simply told his father “I’m a boy” and his classmates “it’s Tosiek now.” Tosiek is not an education tool; he is simply a trans, gay boy. Queer and trans people deserve simply-blissful, romance movies, too.
While this film may not have been my favorite one ever, I have to appreciate Fanfik for what it is. A joyous, queer film. It is less about visiting Tosiek’s traumatic past and his gender dysphoria and more about Tosiek’s hopeful acceptance of himself and gender euphoria.
There were certainly parts I did not enjoy, such as the throwing up scene in the first five minutes, but I think that the good outweighs the bad. I personally thought the fanfiction plotline was a little unnecessary—or at least, not fleshed out enough—but it can be seen in an interesting “accepting a queer identity before accepting yourself as queer” lens.
The transgender storyline means an incredible amount to me, which always prompts me to give it a lot of stars on Letterboxd. I originally would give it a 3/5, but I would more recently rate it a 4/5.
Additionally, here’s a short collection of songs that remind me incredibly strongly of Tosiek:
Body – Mother Mother
This December – Ricky Montgomery
Should’ve Been Me – Mitski
Boy In The Bubble – Alec Benjamin
Comfort Crowd – Conan Gray
Sports – Beach Bunny
fever dream – mxmtoon
AEIOU – Tymek, Pham. This one is in my favorite scene of the movie!