When Ludovic, the 7-year-old hero of Ma Vie en Rose (My Life in Pink), puts on earrings, high heels, and a frilly long dress, then makeup and lipstick, he isn’t just a little boy pretending to be a little girl. He’s becoming himself. He’s doing the only thing he can to express how soft and sweet he feels on the inside. Ludovic (Ludo for short) is played by Georges DuFresne, a remarkable young actor with lovely sad eyes, a delicate upturned nose, and full, ripe lips that would appear to be pouting were it not for the private smile that tugs at their corners. Remarkably androgynous in his pageboy haircut, DuFresne suggests the way that Prince might have come off at 7 — as a doe-eyed pansexual cherub.
The notion of a prepubescent cross-dresser seems a gimmick until you recall how often actual transvestites and drag artists have traced their predilections back to childhood. The novelty of Ma Vie en Rose, written and directed by the Belgian newcomer Alain Berliner, is that since Ludo isn’t swishy, flamboyant, or a baby ”queen,” his desire to be a girl lacks even a twinge of theatrical pretense. The very innocence of his obsession dumbfounds his family members, then enrages them, then brings them together. With its delicate tweaking of middle-class sexual mores, Ma Vie en Rose might have appeared gently subversive in the ’70s. It’s hardly that now, yet Berliner, who still needs to focus his narrative abilities (the film meanders a bit), directs in a happy, open style, with candy-colored psychedelic fantasies that take us right into the heart of Ludo’s world. Gracefully, the film broaches the invisible line where emotional identity becomes sexual identity. It conveys the beautiful inarguability of being exactly who you are.
Ma Vie en Rose (My Life in Pink) STARRING Georges DuFresne RATED R 88 MINUTES