TIFF 2023 | Fitting In (Molly McGlynn, Canada) — Centerpiece

By Madeleine Wall

With its double epigraph from Simone de Beauvoir and Diablo Cody, Molly McGlynn’s Fitting In wears its heart, and its influences, on its sleeve. As the new girl in town (somewhere in New Jersey), teenage Lindy (Maddie Ziegler) is navigating a new school, her nascent dating life, and her barely-holding-it-together single mother (Emily Hampshire). With the encouragement of her best friend Vivian (Djouliet Amara) Lindy decides to have sex with her himbo boyfriend Adam (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), and in the process of seeking birth control discovers that things are not as they should be. 

Lindy has Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, a real condition, meaning that she does not have a uterus and only a partial vagina, and the growing pains of adolescence have suddenly become more complicated. The film is at its best when it focuses on the isolation Lindy has to face: a traumatic series of doctor appointments with a dehumanizing medical system; a mother whose immediate impulse is to think of herself; searching for solace on the internet only to find noise. Alone, Lindy’s experiments with dilators become a music video-esque montage, ending with an inevitable toss across her bedroom. In crisis, Lindy pushes her loved ones away, engages in reckless sex, and single-mindedly tries to “fix” herself. When that doesn’t work, she turns to LGBTQI circles and finds support, and romance with Jax (Ki Griffin), a non-binary classmate.

Though the diverse casting in Fitting In is well intentioned, it often feels like we are in a parallel universe where the only issues that exist are Lindy’s; her adolescent myopia shapes the film. Lindy actually does harm to others, and her self-acceptance has as much to do with exposure to the world as much as it does with making amends. In the end, neither Lindy nor her friends are who they had presented themselves to be, but rather are all posturing as they figure out what they really want. What may be a bit heavy handed for adults, though, plays well on another level, as Fitting In embodies adolescence, with all its growing pains, and for that audience it can come across as a charming, sex-positive coming-of-age story.