Film Reviews

Petty in Pink

Belgian director Alain Berliner's first feature film, Ma Vie en Rose (My Life in Pink), won the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes, but, even so, it only nibbles around the edges of its unusual topic. It tells the story of Ludovic (Georges Du Fresne), a young boy who considers himself a girl. Harboring a fantasy that God intended for him to be female, the 7-year-old shows up to birthday parties in his sister's clothing and admits to a fantasy about marrying his schoolmate Jerome. Ludo's family and neighbors react with a consternation that grows into disdain and frenzied outrage. While Ludo's fantasy and reality meld fluidly, the adult world of social codes doesn't budge.

Increasingly ostracized, the family begins to strain under the weight of Ludo's aberrance, and his parents struggle against blaming or rejecting him. Ludo devises two havens for himself: his fantasy life and his escape to his permissive, free-spirited grandmother.

Berliner depicts Ludo's magical world of possibility--populated by Barbie and Ken-like alter egos--in hypervivid primary colors and spongelike, cartoonish formations. Ludo's escapist fantasy proves far more compelling, visually, than the rest of the movie.

Ma Vie en Rose focuses on a misunderstood child whose yearnings seem recognizable; but the film, through its failure to develop, analyze or explain Ludo, fails to generate any sympathy. The film does a more subtle job of tracing the surrounding characters' reactions, though even there its facile resolution proves inadequate. Ma Vie en Rose means to endorse this idiosyncratic child and the open-ended fantasy world of children, but it doesn't address the broader implications of the child's delusion.

Ma Vie en Rose
Directed by Alain Berliner; with Georgas Du Fresne.

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Elana Roston