“The Last Summer of La Boyita” is a sweet and humane film about a willful young girl struggling to understand the complexities of sex and gender. Despite content involving burgeoning sexuality and youthful curiosity, “La Boyita” never seems exploitative or tawdry. On the contrary, it is a wonderful film about the friendship between the girl, Jorgelina (Guadalupe Alonso) and an intersexed farmer’s son, Mario (Nicolás Treise.)
Jorgelina is a somewhat entitled little girl living in Argentina who spends the summer with her doctor father (Gabo Correa) in a rural area. While vacationing there, she immediately takes an active interest in Mario, the low-key son of a farmer who has been pulled out of school to work full-time on the farm. Living with few joys or options, Mario is further burdened with a destructive secret- he is intersexed (popularly coined a hermaphrodite.)
Cursed with both male and female reproductive organs, he must live in fear that someone will discover his secret. Jorgelina takes a prepubescent fancying to Mario, and becomes curious when his strange sexual status is almost accidentally revealed. Meanwhile, Mario prepares for a horse race that will prove his manhood to the other young lads.
The child actors are wonderful, but the stand-out performance is Mirella Pascual as Elba, Mario’s mother. She effortlessly plays a woman to whom life has dealt a shit-ton of pain and sadness. Mario’s father, a rather brutish man (Guillermo Pfening) seemingly humiliated by his son’s gender abnormality, refuses to take Mario to a professional for fear of embarrassment. He’s good too. Actually, the whole cast is quite fabulous.
I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about this movie. Beautiful cinematography, natural acting, delightful leads… It’s sad and sweet and wistful all at the same time. The plot can be a little slow, but if you like nuanced, slow-paced movies like I do you will forgive the film it’s occasional sluggishness.
What impressed me most about “The Last Summer of La Boyita” was the natural way the dealt with the boy’s affliction. It’s easy to take a schoolboy’s stance on a subject like intersexuality, snickering and clowning around a serious topic. It is also easy to turn the whole thing into a lurid melodrama. It is harder to show restraint and sensitivity to a rare but still prevalent issue. I highly recommend this movie to anyone.