Louie, a 17-year-old boy, struggling with his secret desire to live as a woman while being raised by a strict conservative family finds escape by developing a relationship with his homophobic bully, Tony.
Louie, or “Loulou” to some, is a fine-featured and somewhat delicate 17-year-old boy with a glimmer of steely determination in his eye. His air of femininity could easily lead one to
mistake him for a girl and, in fact, Louie is a transgender girl in the midst of coming to terms with the reality of growing up in a conservative small American town. Shy and insecure, Louie’s journey to womanhood will challenge his body and mind as he explores and battles gender.
Louie develops a relationship with Tony, his ex-bully, who encourages Louie to rebel from his daily conformist routine and family in order to embrace a free-er, more self-accepting personality. Louie will learn sacrifice and the weights of adulthood in a society against freedom of gender through this bittersweet coming-of-age story.
Tony is a well-built 17-year-old boy who constantly adopts a tough-guy posture when with his friends. Sadistic and short-tempered, Tony and his two goons Bubbles & Spike, generally kill their boredom by victimising others. Of late their main target is Louie, and Tony’s obsession for him does not go unnoticed.
Tony comes from a broken family: his mother ill and catatonic and his brother violent and abusive. Out of love for his mother, Tony is bound to his hometown with a life heading nowhere. As a result, he is pressured by his brother and the community around him to maintain a strong masculine front despite deep hidden feelings that make him doubt his sexuality.
Sister Beatrice is an elderly compassionate nun with a cheeky smile. She has led an unusual life for a nun but is as committed to her religion as any other. With an always open ear, she quickly becomes Louie’s only friend and mentor.
Sister Beatrice is not easily accepted into her parish and community. New to the town and with a mysterious past, she faces rejection head-high and ignores ill-intended criticism, sometimes even to a higher price.
Arthur, louie’s father, is an imposing middle-aged man and police deputy. Though he shares some of his child’s soft features, his stern expression betrays a barely concealed hostility. Determined to raise his son strong and confident, his attempts are often vain and lead him to constant disappointment.
Arthur grew up in family with strong traditional values. He is eager to raise his son and mentor him to adulthood. His own insecurities and fears to live up to the task have stagnated his ability to communicate his feelings. Raised to be prone to violence when his mind is set, Arthur struggles to maintain a relationship with Louie.
Marie, Louie’s mother, is a caring middle-aged woman who is dedicated to her family. Having chosen the path of a housewife, Marie cherishes, protects and supports her husband and son the best she can whilst battling with a strong lack of assertiveness.
Having grown up in a strict family forbidding her to express herself, Marie found happiness in her own family, detached from the previous one. Marie sees the doubts that cloud her family and understands both sides of her husband and son’s clash. However, desperate to maintain a bonded family, and afraid to bring any discomfort into her home, she remains silent, hoping to help without confrontation.
THEME & TONE
The feature’s aim is to explore identity, more specifically being a transgender or homosexual child in a conservative modern context. This coming-of-age story contrasts Louie's warm yet hidden intimate world with the cold harshness of his reality. The visual style is inspired by the gritty British realism of This Is England (2006) while the main tonal influence on the story is the light and poetic feeling of Ma Vie En Rose (1997) which explores the difficulties faced by transgender children not given the choice to embrace their true identities.
Each of the story's characters are clouded by secrecy and shame and Louie's rise to self-acceptance brings to their small religious town a new retrospective and a chance to express who they truly are.