Ballister is about to be knighted. He will become the first to receive this honor usually reserved for people of noble blood. However, his knighting ceremony does not go as planned and he is accused of a crime he did not commit. On the run, he meets Nimona, an imaginative teen with supernatural abilities who has a penchant for destruction and wants to help him prove his innocence and exact revenge. Not always in this order… The improbable duo bond over the fights until a disturbing revelation shakes their friendship.
Fans of queer sci-fi and fantasy already know who ND Stevenson is: he’s the non-binary creator behind She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, an animated series populated by strong girls and characters with gender identities and sexual orientations various. Before being a movie, Nimona was a comic book romance starring the same two main characters – the very ethical Ballister and the impulsive Nimona – but set in an even more chivalrous universe than its screen adaptation.
The idea of setting your story in the world of chivalry turns out to be clever: since you know the codes, you quickly see where and how the scenario plays out. Above all, the fact of feeling on familiar ground means that we pay extra attention to what the film seeks to convey. Which revolves around what Nimona is or is not. She looks like a girl, but who she is deep down actually transcends that kind of label. And she needs to express it to feel alive, she says.
That Ballister has a lover rather than a lover becomes a secondary element in this context. The essence of the film is the look at difference when it is blurred or perceived as threatening. On the pain of the excluded person, too. A statement that resonates strongly in this era where, south of the border in particular, but in Quebec as well, the expression of transidentity is disturbing and where hatred is instrumentalized for political ends.
The visual approach and retro-futuristic setting of this version of Nimona are compelling. However, what makes the film stand out is above all its tone. Even if she suffers from the way she is looked at, Nimona is nothing like a little princess who needs to be protected. Even less than one victim. On the contrary, she is a girl who has a forehead all around her head and a delicious sense of repartee. Let’s say she wouldn’t look out of place in the crazy Harley Quinn gang. The dialogues are delicious and the interpretation of Chloë Grace Moretz (the voice of the character in the original English version) is fantastic.