Film & Television

Georges Du Fresne as Ludovic


Ma Vie En Rose
 by Peter Herman
As translated into English, the title "My Life in Pink" loses the dual meaning intended in the French wording.  Ma Vie En Rose is about Ludovic, a seven-year-old Belgian child with an unusual problem.  Ludovic's parents and community perceive Ludovic to be a boy, but Ludovic maintains an unshakable conviction that she is a girl.  She never loses faith that her physical condition is a temporary one.  This good-natured optimism, seeing life through rose colored glasses, is the alternate meaning to pink as symbol of Ludovic's sexual identity. 

        As the film opens, the Fabre family has just moved into an American style suburb and is entertaining their neighbors with an American style barbecue.  The Fabre children are introduced, but merriment turns to shocked silence when Ludovic appears in drag, sporting meticulously applied lipstick.  The happy hubbub quickly resumes as Ludovic's statement of sexual identity is dismissed as a childish prank.

        The parents are initially calm in dealing with what they consider confusion on Ludovic's part.  They take Ludovic to a therapist.  Ludovic does try to conform.  On her mother's urging, she goes along with soccer practice.  There, she earnestly tries on a boy's role, awkwardly affecting her teammates' macho mannerisms.

        Ultimately, Ludovic is determined to be accepted as a girl.  She falls in love with Jerome, the young son of her father's boss.  When the two children are discovered performing a marriage ceremony, relations between the two sets of parents are severely strained.  Scandal becomes public when Ludovic usurps the Sleeping Beauty role in a school play by locking the little girl destined for the part in the dressing room.

        Ludovic seeks scientific advice from her sympathetic teenage sister.  Optimism reigns as Ludovic interprets the biology lesson.  She explains to uncomprehending parents that her X and Y-chromosomes will eventually sort themselves out.  An unconventional and sympathetic grandmother provides an emotional anchor for Ludovic.  So do fantasies about Ken and Pam, Barbie like figures inhabiting a pastel pink world of TV ads.

        There is a strong temptation to refer to Ludovic as a boy, and indeed, the character is played by a self-confident Belgian boy quite secure in his male identity.  This information was made apparent to those, including this reviewer, who attended the premiere American performance at Lincoln Center in New York City.  The audience was treated to a fascinating post performance question and answer session with the director, Alain Berliner and the young star, Georges du Fresne.

        That the star would be attending became apparent when a boy of small stature accompanied by a petite, smartly dressed woman came striding through the mostly adult crowd milling by the theatre entrance.  When a small man in his seventies shyly approached the boy for his autograph, the boy graciously complied.

        At the film's conclusion members of the audience were given the opportunity to address questions to both Georges du Fresne and Alain Berliner.  Because the boy could not speak English, his director translated for him.  According to Berliner, du Fresne was chosen for his acting ability and small stature.  At age 11, Georges could believably portray the seven-year-old Ludovic.  Another boy with excellent acting skills had initially been auditioned. He had seemed appropriate because he liked to dress in girls’ clothes.  He however proved unsuitable when conflicting emotions caused him to freeze up. Mr. Du Fresne attested that he had not experienced any emotional discomfort in taking on this unusual role.

        One audience member asked if the boy had had to face gibes from schoolmates because of his role.  Again, this had not been a problem.  Mr. du Fresne's aplomb in answering questions from the audience matched that of his extraordinary performance as Ludovic.  He left no doubt that he could negotiate interpersonal interactions as easily as he could take on the difficult role of a small girl incomprehensibly locked into a boy's body.  Du Fresne’s acting virtuosity is all the more remarkable when one considers the gulf between a seven-year-old and an eleven-year-old child.

        Alain Berliner was himself unwilling to put a definite interpretation on Ludovic's predicament, preferring to leave that up to the audience.  It did not matter to Berliner if Ludovic was potentially transsexual, transvestite, homosexual or just going through a phase.  The real point of the film was a plea for tolerance.  This is a point that all readers of this Bulletin can agree on.



From the NAMBLA Bulletin, Vol. x, No. x, 1998
Copyright © NAMBLA, 2006

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