First love. Teenage love. We all have experienced it even if it was not as sweet as the one the protagonists share. "Friends" could be considered an adaptation of the classic "The Blue Lagoon", originally from 1949, and its remakes from 1980 (the most popular one, with Brooke Shields) and 1999 (with a young Milla Jovovich). While "The Blue Lagoon" puts the two young lovers in a desert island, with no contact with civilization, "Friends" goes the opposite route and it is sure to ring much more true and be a more difficult movie with contemporary audiences. Paul and Michelle who, for different reasons, turn their backs on family and the adult world to end up living together in a small cottage in Southern France. Having only each other and their childhood innocence, their friendship slowly develops into much more as they struggle to sustain themselves, in this sweet coming of age story. This film even to this day is controversial since the actors are teenagers and they certainly look the ages that are stated in the movie (15 and 14 1/2). The movie does contains a hint of child molesting, nudity, depictions of teenage sex and teenage pregnancy. But the real controversy is not the subject matter but the fact that Paul and Michelle's love is presented as a natural and healthy relationship. While this worked fine for stranded lovers in another time and in a desert island, having them in a modern setting presents some very difficult moral issues. Laws prohibiting consenting sex between minors are in effect in almost all countries and lack of sexual education in teenagers is seen as one of the causes for the rise in unwanted teenage pregnancies and abortions. Is a movie like this one just child pornography or a slap in the face to make us face our own hypocrisy, regarding a modern society that does not cater to teenage parents and laws that clearly go against human nature and hormonal development but that are needed to prevent child abuse? Is hormonal development parallel to emotional growth? These are not easy questions and most of us will feel uncomfortable with them. As an artistic piece, this movie is really a forgotten and rough gem. The script progresses with extreme simplicity, albeit some sappiness, but never pulling any punches to state its message, although by today standards, it is somewhat slow. The photography is beautiful and it has scenes of great beauty. The acting of the two protagonists varies from really awful in some scenes to marvelously innocent and credible in others. Pop music, unlike most productions nowadays, is used tastefully and sometimes the lyrics speak the thoughts of the protagonists. Overall, this is a delightful piece, even if the moral values are not in concordance with your own.
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