Review by Frank Plowright
Florence is a young orphaned girl living in a country run by a dictator with little concern for the wellbeing of most citizens. Any dissenting voices are quickly suppressed and the dispossessed are left to fend for themselves. This is why we first meet Florence stealing a loaf of bread as per the sample art.
Boum is the pseudonym used by Canadian creator Samantha Leriche-Gionet, and she’s very vague with the background details as she concentrates on Florence’s hand to mouth existence. For a long while we’re not even sure how old Florence is meant to be. Her dialogue suggests a teenage girl drawn in an individual style, not the younger girl she actually is. We’re given a few glimpses of the girl she might have been in a fairer society, such as her love of Boris Vian’s music*. To hear it, she has to visit a friendly antique store owner. We also meet Florence’s best friend Auguste, born with a lung condition and knowing he’ll never receive any hospital treatment.
Showing courage in the face of major adversity is Boum’s speciality, and there’s a willingness to equate actions and consequences, but this is accompanied by predictability and a tendency to over-sell some situations. You won’t require a very broad fiction immersion to be able to figure out what’s going to happen, nor the moments in the story that will have later meaning. It prevents the unfolding tragedy having the desired emotional impact, and it’s only in the final stages that Boum moves beyond expectation with an ending that pulls together what we’ve already seen Florence is capable of. That’s effective, surprising and satisfying, but it’s a long time in coming.
*Never heard of Boris Vian? Look up his Wikipedia page to discover a remarkable creative life.