Review: The Last Summer of La Boyita, dir. Julia Solomonoff
The Last Summer of La Boyita is out on DVD today. Sonia Zadurian shares her thoughts on this thought provoking new film from Argentinian director Julia Solomonoff.
The Last Summer of La Boyita tells the story of a young girl on the brink of adolescence. Jorgelina (Guadalupe Alonso) is on her summer vacation from school, but quickly becomes restless when her teenaged sister neglects her in favour of more grownup pursuits. Frustrated with her sister’s move towards adulthood, Jorgelina goes to the countryside with her father. Once there, she reunites with old friend Mario (Nicholás Treise), who is beginning a challenging transition of his own.
The Last Summer of La Boyita covers a lot of thematic ground in a comparatively short amount of time. In particular, the film calls into question the idea of gender and sexuality as immovable absolutes, by peering at them through the eyes of an innocent child who is untainted by any learned definitions.
For instance, at one point during the film, Jorgelina and Mario are seen preparing their costumes for a carnival. Whilst Jorgelina dresses as a bearded male, Mario dons a wig to dress as a woman. The pair laugh, joke and applaud themselves on their funny costumes, whilst the adults around them are appalled. Mario’s parents are particularly offended and order him to remove the wig. Though their feelings clearly relate to other developments in the narrative, it is apparent that maintaining clear gender divides is integral to this rural community.
The film also looks at the shame associated with explicit sexual awareness and at the importance of sex education for children approaching adolescence. For instance, after showing Mario a sex education book, Jorgelina urges him to hide the book away and ensure that no one else is able to see it. Whilst the book has provided the youngsters with some much needed information, they are still left with unanswered questions. At one point, Jorgelina is warned about the dangers of masturbation by an irrational adult. These exchanges illustrate the learned sense of shame which is associated with sexual awareness and the importance of transparency in sexual education, with the latter instance providing an example of how directly these links are passed from concerned adult to clueless child.
The boredom and loneliness of a child approaching adolescence is also examined as the audience spends a significant amount of time early on in the film with Jorgelina and her older sister. Time and devotion to its central characters combines with wonderfully naturalistic performances and a slow pace to ensure that the audience are able to strongly empathise with both Jorgelina and Mario. This results in some of the adult reactions to Mario’s unusual progression into adolescence seeming all the more brutal and irrational, also working to underline the absurdity of traditional views of gender and sexuality in the modern world.
The Last Summer of La Boyita is a quietly intriguing and beautifully shot adventure into the boundaries of gender and sexuality, which will prompt audiences to question the norms and values of society whilst becoming emotionally entangled in the plights of two endearing young children.