Ma Vie En Rose Review

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A young boy's cross-dressing antics bring shame on his family.


This take on the thorny subject of cross-dressing is a bittersweet tale of pre-teen sexual soul-searching and bourgeois prudery. Hanna (Laroque) and Pierre (Ecoffey) are celebrating their social elevation when their youngest son Ludovic (Du Fresne) shocks the neighbours by showing up at their housewarming dressed as an Oriental princess. A hate campaign ensues and forces the family to a new town where Ludo desperately tries to suppress his instincts.

Aspiring to both satire and social commentary, this is a film which consistently lacks the courage of its own convictions. The comedy isn't particularly funny, while the drama lacks angst. Prejudices rise and fall with unconvincing convenience, while the final resolution has a neatness that owes little to life. The torment of Ludo's parents, like the revenge of the priggish neighbours, is overly controlled, while the boy's confidence in his destiny ignores the doubts other people's reactions must be sparking within him.

That said, the design and Berliner's clever shifts in colour as reality intrudes upon Ludo's Barbie doll daydreams, are inspired. Equally, the central idea is a provocative one and it gains considerable strength from the remarkable performance from Du Fresne as the boy convinced he'll eventually turn into a girl.

The conclusion settles nothing, but this is an audacious debut both for the director and his young star.