Miss @ Cinemania

Over the last decade or so sexual identity has become more and more fluid. In many parts of the world people are now able to live as their authentic selves no matter what they look like, who they love or the body they were born in. However, there are still some bastions which remain rigid in their sexual division. Meaning certain things are still thought of as for men or for women.

One of those things is beauty pageants. It is a world for women. Men are not invited to participate and even further, they are forbidden. Since Alex was 9-years-old he had a dream of becoming Miss France. Of course, he was teased and bullied being someone who was born male but really in touch with what is thought of as feminine. Things got even worse for him when his beloved parents died in an accident. Alex was alone. An outsider.

Now an adult, even though he still exists on the fringes he has found himself a kind of pseudo family in the building he lives, which is owned by the always prickly Yolande (Isabelle Nanty). Alex (Alexandre Wetter – appeared in episodes of Emily in Paris and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) is not happy in life and lacks self confidence so decides once again that he is going to go after his dream of being Miss France.

He is going to do this by hiding his identity as male. Aided by Lola (Thibault de Montalembert – The King, Indochine), a transvestite prostitute who lives in the house where Alex’s resides, Alex takes his androgyny a step further to now passing as a woman. Not only passing but winning the Miss Ile-de-France contest. He will now be in the big Miss France pageant. Now will come the big test.

Ruben Alves’s film successfully navigates the murky waters of being able to entertain, touch as well as bring a message with it. The film celebrates femininity in all its forms. Do not come here with preconceived ideas as they will be challenged. All the binary norms we have come to accept are shown to be silly.

Some may see this as too much of a seeing the world through rose coloured glasses. That if you take a risk and reveal your true self that, with the help of a few others, you will find yourself living your authentic life. That is not always possible. Especially in most parts of the world. But it is a film which does supply hope. Hope that we will soon be living in a world in which someone who is hurting no one by living the life they want to is not discouraged, the victim of bullying and violence and threatened.

A real discovery for me was the lead actor. Alexandre Wetter is a model. He has walked in shows of designers like Jean Paul Gauthier. Now he has turned to acting. This is his big screen debut. He is able to bring about all the sides of this character. Whether stereotypically masculine or feminine. a beautiful human being no matter what clothes he wears. Plus there is a kind of light seemingly shining from within through large parts of the film.

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