A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Ma Vie En Rose," wherein 7-year-old Ludovic dreams of growing up to be a girl, is beguiling as much for what it isn't as for what it is. Director Alain Berliner blessedly avoids the temptation to psychologize. He and his co-writer, Chris Vander Stappen, ensure the strength of their movie by writing about a boy who is still engulfed in innocence. Ludovic (Georges DuFresne) lives his dream in games free of adolescent conflict--which is not to say that Ludovic's parents don't have a devil of a time dealing with the situation.

Upwardly mobile Pierre and Hanna Fabre move into the suburb that is also home to Pierre's boss. When families pour from their identical houses to welcome the Fabre family at a family barbecue, the happy convergence is reduced to silence when Ludovic, after elaborate preparations, makes his entrance dressed as a girl. Later, when he stages a marriage ceremony between himself and the boss's young son, the world begins to unravel.

The boy's behavior brings expulsion from school, throws his parents' marriage into chaos, and leaves his father without a job. And yet it all happens with such gentleness that we are free to relax enough to get inside the head of this little boy whose superbly illusionary guardians are Barbie and Ken, elevated to angelic status as they float above Ludovic's life, dropping protective stardust on his world.

Kind, if befuddled, the parents, grandmother, teacher, a therapist struggle to understand, to redirect the boy who maintains that when God distributed chromosomes, the one that would have made him female fell by mistake into the garbage. The humor endures because Ludovic's parents love him without reservation. Ludovic understands himself precisely; it is the world at large that doesn't know what to make of such certainty in a child. To Mr. Berliner's credit, he draws no lessons, finds no need to wrap things neatly by suggesting what will become of Ludovic.

Georges du Fresne is enchanting as the little boy, who holds onto his fantasy in the face of mighty pressures to conform. He hasn't yet learned that we are supposed to live as others want us to. The loveliest part of this movie is that Ludovic may well wake up tomorrow or next year wanting to be a race car driver or a musician, a father or a bachelor. We are left with the delightful probability that he will find his own perceptive way.

It is discouraging to imagine what Americans might have made of this story: earnest lessons about tolerance, perhaps, or explorations of cause and effect, theorizing about the progression to sexual confusion. Instead, this is a fairy tale that sees its subject in all its lovely innocence. It's about the innocence of children in that moment just before it is destroyed by the stereotypes we adults, in our infinite wisdom, build to entrap our young for the rest of their lives.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 492
Studio : Sony Pictures Classics
Rating : NR
Running Time: 1h28m

Copyright (c) Illusion

Return to Ellis Home Page