Young Jorgelina (Guadalupe Alonso), is rejected by her beautiful older sister, Luciana (María Clara Merendino) who she adores, in favour of boys. Now menstruating and wearing push-up bras, Luciana has little interest in playing with her little sister, or hanging out with her and sharing secrets in ’La Boyita’ – a small, bubble-shaped caravan out the back. Jorgelina decides to spend the summer with her doctor father on a farm outside the city. There, she develops a friendship with Mario (Nicolás Triese), a young jockey and farmhand who lives in the barn. As the two become closer, they begin to see the similarities they share are more numerous than their differences.
Smartly played is the younger sibling’s perspective on puberty; looking through her father’s medical textbooks she anticipates what will happen to her body with a mix of curiosity, disgust, and horror. Also Jorgelina’s pain of alienation is beautifully rendered and keenly felt – a physical fight the pair have after rejection is saddening.
Awkward, quiet, and clearly not accepted by the older boys, Mario is an appropriate partner. But whatever fear and alienation Jorgelina might feel in the approach to puberty, it cannot quite compare with what Mario is going through. Gradually, it becomes clear that Mario is intersex. More dangerous however is that his shakily held identity as a boy is slipping, while his embarrassed parents struggle to know what to do with him. As the central duo, Alonson and Triese are likable, natural performers, shouldering difficult ideas and themes with impressive sensitivity.
The potential threat to Mario is nicely suggested in the sporadic, casual brutality of this pastoral life – in the quick despatch by the farmer of a surprised cow, for instance. And generally the film capitalises on the summer beauty of the Argentine countryside – all lakes, grass, and oranges – coming alive under Julia Solomonoff’s eye, making this a beautiful watch. Also, special mention must be made of a disarmingly lovely and economically executed opening credit sequence.
What harms the film’s success is an ending which feels entirely inconclusive. What happened to Mario next? What did Jorgelina learn? How will it help her going forward? It is the tradition of ‘last summer’ movies that some wisdom is attained by our lead character. But in this instance one may wonder whether they have.
The Last Summer of La Boyita is available to order on Amazon UK from 23 April 2012.