Ludovic, the diminutive hero of MA VIE EN ROSE is as the saying goes, a little boy with a difference. When he makes a grand entrance at his parents’ housewarming party, he’s wearing his sister’s dress and his mom’s lipstick and earrings. In their bourgeois suburban enclave, this causes eyebrows to rise perceptibly.When he later announces that he will grow up to be a girl, eyebrows fly upward at mach 2. When he gets a crush on his father’s boss’s son and it’s reciprocated, hellfire, damnation, and psychiatrists are invoked.
His bohemian grandmother (Helene Vincent) is the voice of reason. She tells the neighborhood parents to let the child have his fantasy. He’ll grow out of it or he won’t, either way, what harm does it do to let him be himself, not what society decides he ought to be? She’s in a perfect position to understand, this vibrant woman still taking big bites out of life, unwilling as she is to fit the role society dictates to women of a certain age. Unfortunately, the neighbors aren’t having any of it. Nor is his family, even his sympathtic mother (Michele LaRoque), who’s teetering on the edge of a breakdown from the stress.
The film is told from Ludovic’s point of view. It’s charming when he cogitates a fanciful explanation for God’s mistake in assigning him the wrong gender or retreats to his fantasy world where the sun shines on day-glo colors and life is simple for everyone. And it’s tragic when Ludovic attempts to please his increasingly disturbed father (Jean-Phillipe Ecoffey) by acting macho. And when he learns how hurtful name-calling can be. Georges Du Fresne as Ludovic, has a winsome face, a knowing smile, and eyes that go from innocent to wise as he negotiates the increasingly hostile world around him.
Here’s the crux of the story. Ludovic is, at heart, perfectly happy as is. It’s the adults who have the problem, trying to make this sweet and sensitive child feel ashamed of who he is. Even the most well-meaning among them end up poisoning themselves with their prejudice.
At first, this film might seem an odd choice for a Christmas Day release, but think about it. This is the season when we’re supposed to be celebrating peace on earth, goodwill toward men. What could possibly be MORE appropriate than a timely parable on tolerance and the celebration of what makes us each unique and special?