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A wasted opportunity
on 18 November 2008
Others have written about being moved to tears by this movie, and certainly when it originally played in London it became a kind of group therapy for its (largely gay) audience. Maybe if you are carried along on a wave of collective emotion, it could be very powerful, but watching a DVD at home somehow seems a more clinical experience. You pause to go to the toilet or make a coffee or whatever; you can reverse to scenes, or to remind yourself, or whatever. And that kind of communal experience is lost.
So I have to say that this is a very manipulative movie, and I found myself resenting it. The characters have little depth, the boy is unbearably cute, especially as a girl - would we have so much sympathy with an ugly transsexual, I ask myself? I find it hard to believe that EVERY parent in a school in France in 1997 would sign a petition to get rid of a 7-year-old boy who likes wearing frocks. Latvia, yes, or 1957. And at the end the turnaround where the parents come to accept him seems perfunctory and too easily won.
That said, it merits 3 stars for the quality of the central performance, and two "wow" moments - one where Ludo is discovered in the freezer, trying to freeze himself to death, eyes closed and a cross in his hands; the other when he meets Chris, who wanted to play with him, and Chris is called away by Mother - "Christine...."
Because the scales are so heavily weighted, it's the sort of movie which appeals to those with a sense of beleaguerment in the world. It flatters an audience because it is impossible not to believe that you are better than all the characters in the movie (apart from Ludo, of course). As such it misses several tricks in dealing with real prejudice in adult ways. A feel-good movie that could have been so much more.