The film is about differences: how a child distinguishes appropriate behavior for himself against the standards of what others consider normal. Ludovic discovers he is different from others and encounters the violent world of adults as a result. This violence is not expressed physically, but causes as much intense pain. Children live in a world of possibilities, a poetic, open world where the threshold between dreams and reality barely exists. Nothing is definite. Nothing is final. An adult's vision, on the other hand, is already dominated by appearances, social codes and ideas about what is normal and what isn't. For adults, it's always blue for a boy and pink for a girl.
Because it is much easier for a girl to be a tomboy than for a boy to be girlish, writer Chris vander Stappen chose to tell this story from the boy's point of view. "The stakes are much higher for males. A boy who thinks he's a girl stirs up a deep fear in men of not measuring up to an image of virility," he says.
"What won me over to vander Stappen's screenplay was the way it depicted the boundless, magical world of children, a world where everything is possible," says producer Carole Scotta, who's company Haut et Court started out in short films and distribution. Her passion to share with others the pleasure of discovering new talent led her to Berliner and vander Stappen in her first producing effort. Financing was difficult because of the challenging subject matter and the special effects needed to create Ludovic's dream world, but Scotta compares producing to marriage: "You commit yourself, hopefully for as long as possible, so you'd better get the right person," she says.
Many will notice Veronique Melery's production design of "Ma Vie en Rose," the vibriant colors of which are captured by cinematographer Yves Cape. As the film opens, the audience is presented with the bright colors and activity of a celebration of prosperous suburban life. But as Ludovic becomes aware that he does not fit into the world, and as the judgment of others close in around him and his family, the real world begins to lose its color. Not unlike Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands," the visual style of "Ma Vie en Rose" follows the storyline. At first everything is light, open, cheerful and colorful. Then, what used to be allowed is declared forbidden and Ludovic's world grows darker. The bright, warm colors of the first part of the film contrasts with the second half, painted in colder tints of blue and gray. The film's structure gets steadily looser as the peaceful, middle-class life of Ludovic's family breaks down.
"I used a lot of high angle shots because I like the idea that we are our own spectators, watching ourselves come and go, and to me that means looking down from above," says Berliner.
Casting the part of Ludovic was a difficult balance of getting a child who could concentrate and act on a fairly tight production schedule yet also be distant enough from the character to avoid any risk of identifying with him. Georges du Fresne had the perfect mix of fragility and determination that Berliner had in mind. "He is amazingly mature for his age and brings a true actor's thinking to the part, trying to understand why his character does whatever he does," he says. "Most of the children auditioning couldn't act the part, as the fiction was too close to their reality and it completely froze them up."
Dreams and magic, tools given to Ludovic by his Grandmother Elisabeth, a woman who came to maturity at the height of the feminist movement and regrets her daughter's conventionality, become a large part of Ludovic's landscape. She takes him in when his family threatens to disown him, and they watch his favorite television show, "Pam," and she tells him to close his eyes so that the world becomes what he is looking for. He fantasizes about being the fabulous fairy doll that Pam is, riding around in her convertible with long, silken hair.
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