Parisian girl leaves adolescence behind
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 06/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a charming little film made in the agreeable French tradition of Vadim, Techine, Kieslowski, et al, in which the film itself reflects the director's adoration for its pretty young star. In this case we have Director Benoît Jacquot adoring Judith Godrèche, who plays a poor but principled 17-year-old Parisian girl disenchanted with her life, in particular with the choices she has in males. Her boyfriend tells her she should sleep with somebody ugly. Just why isn't clear. He is referred to as "whatshisname." She meets an interesting man, Alphonse, played by Marchel Bozonnet, but he is too old for her and, at any rate, still enamored of another. And certainly she doesn't want her mother's lover, referred to as "Sugardad," who is in his sixties.Godrèche herself is as natural and unself-conscience as a child. Dressed mostly in thin house dresses that cling lightly to her body, she displays the clear eyes, the clean jaw line and sculptured arms of youthful innocence. The camera adores her face and stays with her throughout. Clearly she is good and good to look at, but I would not say she is as enchanting as Krzysztof Kieslowski's Irène Jacob (La Double vie de Véronique (1991); Trois Couleurs: Rouge (1994)) nor as talented as Juliette Binoche in Andre Techine's Rendez-Vous (1985). And of course not nearly as sexy as Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim's And God Created Woman (1957).But comparisons are odious. This is a good film in its own right. The treatment suggests a short story from a literary journal, original, with quiet, unexpected tableaux of daily life leaving one to ponder. The climax appears without one's knowing it until the film begins the closing credits and then one understands what happened. There is a dark symbolic element throughout suggesting the bondage to the material world that comes when a girl is no longer a child.Vietnamese-French actor Hai Truhong Tu is excellent in a small part as Godrèche's Chinese friend."
About A Child Who Was Never A Child
SORE EYES | 06/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"17 year old Parisian, Beth, lives in poverty with her sick mother and little brother. When Beth's good looking boyfriend suggests she get some experience and sleep with someone ugly-the uglier the better-Beth comes to the realization that her life is probably going to be one of continual disenchantment. She seeks solace in a man who might be like her idealized Rimbaud-a heart broken writer living in a sparse apartment-to no avail. She dumps her indifferent boyfriend who has now become incensed that his sexual object has spurned him. At her mother's insistence,"I've done worse things for you", Beth sleeps with Sugardad, a 65 year old "doctor" and her mother's lover-for the money to leave her existence behind. As her mother prosaicilly puts it before Beth leaves the apartment to go to the doctor's house, "You're no longer a child". One doubts Beth ever was.
Typical of French films, the story arc here is not strong and the references are subtle, so know what you are getting. This is not a loud American film. As Beth enters Sugardads apartment, she goes into his examination room and adjusts the examination table to prone position to suggest the sexual encounter that is about to happen. And though everyone says Beth is no longer a child, we watch as Beth dances on the carpet while waiting for Sugardad to answer a call, placing her feet toe to heel as if balancing on a curb she's trying not to fall off of. Sugardad's examination room is covered in cobwebs, but his phone is ringing off the hook-an allusion to the fact that her mother is a morphine addict and Sugardad her dealer.
The acting here is wonderful and the story charming. I enjoyed this film, but it isn't uplifting. However, it is a lighter and more beautiful version of the completely gutting "Lilya 4-Ever"."