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"MY LIFE IN PINK"
("MA VIE EN ROSE")

(1998) (Georges du Fresne, Michele Laroque) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate None Heavy Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Mild Heavy Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A family must cope with both their reactions, as well as those from the neighbors and other parents, concerning their seven-year-old son who believes he's really a girl.
PLOT:
Pierre (JEAN-PHILIPPE ECOFFEY) and Hanna Fabres (MICHELE LAROQUE) have just moved into a suburb in Brussels with their four children, Thom (GREGORY DIALLO), Jean (ERIK CAZALS DE FABEL), Zoe (CRISTINA BARGET) and Ludovic (GEORGES DU FRESNE). Things seem going well for them as Pierre has a new job with their new neighbor, Albert Brun (DANIEL HANSSENS), whose wife Lisette (LAURENCE BIBOT) and the rest of the neighbors seem to like the Fabres.

A problem develops, however, when Ludovic, their seven-year-old son, tells his hip grandmother, Elisabeth (HELENE VINCENT), that he thinks he's really a girl. It seems he would rather play with some popular dolls, Pam and Ben, than with more traditional boy-oriented toys. While the family brushes that off as just part of being a kid, they get worried when he later states that he's going to marry Albert and Lisette's son, Jerome (JULIEN RIVIERE) when he (Ludovic) "grows up and becomes a girl." Soon that creates increasing levels of tension not only within the family, but also between Pierre and his boss Albert. As the family tries everything to set Ludovic straight, they find themselves at worsening odds with the neighbors, other parents, and among themselves.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It's not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For brief strong language (all in English subtitles).
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JEAN-PHILIPPE ECOFFEY and MICHELE LAROQUE plays the father and mother who alternately accuse their son of creating the problems they're facing, and who argue with each other about how they should deal with him.
  • GEORGES DU FRESNE plays the seven-year-old boy who thinks he's a girl and would rather dress and act like one instead of a boy.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
    Films that deal with sexual identity crises usually show adults or, at minimum, teenagers who are confused about who they are. In a world where, for the most part, gender identity is enforced from birth with adults dressing boys in blue and girls in pink, sometimes things don't gel properly and fail to meet the norms. Thus, the reality of transvestites, transsexuals, and those who've undergone sex change operations. What makes 'My Life In Pink" stand out, and what might just generate a lot of controversy around it, is the fact that the sexually confused character isn't an adult, or even a teenager. It's a seven-year-old boy who thinks God goofed up and mistakenly made him a boy. In his mind, things will be resolved when he grows up and becomes a girl and marries Jerome, his dad's boss' son.

    If that sounds upsetting to you, then first time Belgian director Alain Berliner and screenwriter Chris vander Stappen have succeeded in shaking up the norms. They've created a stereotypically homogeneous anywhere-in-the-world suburbia and added an interesting catalyst to stir things up. While this sounds a lot like the subject of a tabloid-type made for TV movie, the film makers have infused it with enough fantasy segments to soften that appearance. Those moments also diffuse the uglier moments when the true spirit -- or lack thereof -- emanates from the parents as well as others who condescendingly look down on the young boy and his family.

    What also keeps the film from becoming a "freak show" is that the boy isn't doing this to get attention and he certainly can't comprehend what all of the fuss is about. He figures his situation was the result of a simple mistake and, using his childhood logic, figures it's an easy thing to fix. For the film to work, the main character has to be completely believable and the film makers lucked out in finding young Georges du Fresne. With his innocent look and his unisex ("It's Pat!") haircut, he could easily pass for a boy or girl. It's his innocent gaze that has near touches of an adult worldliness, however, that is quite simply amazing to behold in someone so young, let alone a newcomer to the world of making movies.

    The rest of the performers range from decent to good, the latter of which includes the boy's parents played by Hanna Fabres and Jean-Philippe Ecoffey. Both actors are allowed to portray varying degrees of reactions to the unfolding events, and Ecoffey soundly plays the father whose own masculinity is threatened by his son's behavior. It's Fabres, however, who stands out as the mother who's initially supportive, but eventually breaks down and just can't handle the pressure anymore. Her reactions seem quite genuine and believable, and she brings some much needed humanity to the picture.

    Some minor problems do arise, however, in relation to these character shifts. While it's quite realistic that a parent's reaction in such a situation would often change, here those moments often feel forced or occur too quickly. It's a minor objection, but they have an awkward feel to them, especially when the father -- who initially has the worst reactions -- suddenly adopts a "damn the torpedoes" attitude and more fully supports his son. Likewise, the neighbor's collective reactions later in the film don't really ring true as they have the look and feel of those zombie movies from the 1950's when such characters would slowly shuffle after the besieged family.

    Of course, so much of the film includes fantasy sequences that you're never quite sure what's supposed to be real and what's not exactly on the up and up. Some moments are obvious, and include the boy's imagination of meeting the live action version of his favorite doll, or flying across the neighborhood, or marrying his best male friend.

    Part of that fantasy element comes from Berliner's inspired choice of set designs and colors. The use of clearly evident pastel hues shows that the film isn't meant to be taken too seriously (after all, how many vivid pink garage doors have you ever seen?) The film's production design is set up to show what happens when an idealistic, pastel-colored world suddenly has a hole torn straight through it. Convincingly enough, once the problems start creeping in, the film loses much of that color (except during more fantasy sequences) as the world worsens for Ludovic and his family.

    Looking beyond the boy's obvious treatment, the story in fact, is really about the parents. More concerned with how others see them than by how they view themselves or their son, it's their homogenous, "Leave it to Beaver" world of neighborly parties and carpools that crumbles. Their son, who has no problems being seen as different, simply knows what he's supposed to be and adapts. Instead, it's the parents and the other adults who can't cope with this change.

    While this might sound heavy handed regarding the notions of accepting others the way they are or not to fall prey to being like everyone else, its lighthearted approach makes the message bearable. 1997's Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language film, the movie manages to make its point while still being entertaining, mainly due to Ludovic's escapist fantasies and parts of the movie's overall tone that keep it from being too much of a downer.

    Some viewers may find the offerings too odd and/or offensive for their tastes. For those who don't, however, they may find this picture to be an offbeat, but mostly pleasant experience. While you're never quite sure what will happen next, and although the film doesn't really end per se, it is an interesting, and rather unusual story to behold in a darkened theater. We give "Ma Vie En Rose" (My Life In Pink) a 6.5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    While it's doubtful many kids (or most American audiences for that matter) will want to see this film, here's a quick look at the content. Obviously some viewers will find the subject matter concerning a young boy wanting to be a girl somewhat unsettling. Likewise, both the family's bad reaction as well as that of nearly everyone else toward the boy will upset other viewers. Beyond all of that, the film gets its R rating from some profanity (that's spoken in French and seen in English subtitles).

    There's some drinking (including one scene where the parents allow all of the kids to drink champagne) and the father returns home apparently drunk after losing his job. It's the boy's confused sexuality and everyone's reaction to it, however, that will probably stir up the most controversy about this film. For that reason, we suggest that you read through the material to check if it's appropriate for anyone in your home who may want to see it.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People bring bottles of wine to an open house and drink some wine.
  • People drink wine at another party.
  • Pierre, who's just been fired, returns home and is literally falling down drunk.
  • The family celebrates with champagne and allows all of the kids to drink a glass of it (and Ludovic drinks his in one gulp).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Most of the other kids make fun of Ludovic and his appearance and behavior.
  • Eventually the other parents and neighbors make bad comments about Ludovic and/or want him and his family to stay away from them.
  • The parents, at times and when stressed, occasionally blame each other or Ludovic for the problems they're experiencing. At one point, Pierre tells Hanna that she's the cause of all of the problems because she's too easy on the boy.
  • Some viewers may look at Ludovic's logic as having both in that he believes God goofed up and gave him a Y chromosome instead of the necessary X chromosome to make him a girl.
  • The headmaster of Ludovic's school kicks him out due to a petition signed by all of the other parents to have the boy removed.
  • Ludovic's older brothers don't stand up for him as some other kids pick on the boy in a locker room.
  • Some viewers may see the fact that the family celebrates with champagne and allows all of the kids to drink a glass of it as having both (but they are in France where that's more accepted).
  • We see that someone sprayed graffiti on the family's house.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Beyond the family problems (found in "Tense Family Scenes") there's the following:
  • Some boys gang up on Ludovic in a locker room (it's implied that they beat him up).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Toy guns: Used by some kids while playing.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases (all in English subtitles): "Moron," "Bent" (for gay), "Idiots," "Pisses me off," "Half ass" and "Shut up."
  • Ludovic likes to dress up and act like a girl (because he thinks he is one).
  • Ludovic, trying to act like a stereotypical man, adjusts his crotch in a few scenes.
  • Hanna finds Ludovic, who's depressed about the situation he's created, hiding in a large (and very cold) freezer.
  • We see that someone sprayed graffiti on the family's house.
  • Another kid playfully shoots Ludovic with a slingshot.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A few scenes have just a bit of ominous sounding background themes in them.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • (All in subtitles): 1 "f" word, 1 "s" word, 3 slang terms for male genitals ("c*ck," "p*cker," and "pr*ck"), 1 slang term for breasts (the "t" word), 1 ass, and 1 use each of "Oh God," "God," and "Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Some viewers may see some homosexual attraction between Ludovic and Jerome (since they often gaze at each other and Ludovic keeps talking about marrying Jerome). Even so, they're only preteens so the point is debatable.
  • An actress who plays the live version of Pam (the doll) shows some cleavage in her low-cut dress in several scenes.
  • A character comments that he "doesn't boing, boing, my wife in public..." and then says, "At least boing, boing isn't unnatural."
  • Ludovic's sister Zoe gets her period, and he then believes that he should get one as well.
  • One of Hanna's outfits shows just a bit of cleavage.
  • SMOKING
  • Hanna smokes about five times while Elisabeth smokes once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Ludovic's parents often confront him with his problem in many different scenes. While some are calm and rational, others escalate into yelling and in one scene Hanna slaps and shakes her son in anger and frustration. At other times, the parents tell Ludovic that he's the cause of all of their problems. In one scene, Pierre yells during dinner and then storms away from the table. Later, he similarly storms out of a child psychiatrist's office.
  • Ludovic's behavior causes the neighbors and others to dislike the family and consequently, tensions escalate. At one point, the parents mildly struggle and Pierre nearly backhands Hanna in anger. At another moment, Hanna tells Pierre that she doesn't know why she married him.
  • We learn that Jerome's sister is dead (we don't know why), but they only discuss this in a few scenes.
  • Ludovic tells his mother that he hates her. He then goes off to live with his grandmother and then visits his family every so often.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Ludovic (the seven-year-old boy) and his behavior and belief that he's really supposed to be a girl.
  • The fact that people often accept "tomboys" (girls who act like boys), but not boys who want to act like girls.
  • Jerome asks to sit next to someone other than Ludovic because he's been told (implied from this parents) that he'll "go to hell" for sitting next to him.
  • After hearing the other kids picking on Ludovic, his teacher tells them that they must accept others who appear different from them.
  • VIOLENCE
  • In a moment of anger, Pierre grabs Ludovic and shakes him a bit, moments after pushing Hanna aside.
  • Pierre nearly backhands Hanna after they briefly struggle as he tries to get to Ludovic.
  • Some kids gang up on Ludovic in a locker room (and it's implied that they beat him up).
  • In anger and frustration, Hanna smacks Ludovic and starts to go after him but other parents pull her away.



  • Reviewed January 30, 1998

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