|Index||5 reviews in total|
This well-acted piece has enough common plot points to warrant comparison to the many "Lolita" movies: it is the story of a middle aged man who develops a friendship with a young school girl and then becomes infatuated with her. This story differs from the "Lolita" tales in its treatment of the two main characters, who both come across with a naivete that suffuses the plot with ambiguity; much of the time we are not really sure if there is something untoward going on between them or if outsiders are projecting a sexual relationship where none exists. Stand out performances by Mr. Kinski as the older man and by Miss Palmer as the innocently beguiling young girl.
It has been almost ten years since I wrote my first IMDb.com review of La Femme Infant, one of the most beautiful and haunting films I've ever seen. It took me almost 30 years to finally see it again, having to buy it from Amazon FR. I saw it on public TV in NYC in the early 80's and never forgot it. The version available from France is without English subtitles, so you have to guess what they are saying, but, miraculously, it works w/o words. The cinematography, sound, casting, and acting are perfection. It is one of the great art films in cinema history, yet the owners selfishly and stupidly hold on to it, insanely refusing to release it in America with English subtitles. What a loss to the world of cinema in the English-speaking world. It is a true classic even if you watch it in French and don't understand the language. So rare, so beautiful, so unique. At least I have my French version. I can't see how anyone would rate this masterpiece less than a 10. One would have to be numb, ignorant, and blind to vote less than a 10 on this one-of-a-kind creative masterpiece.
This film is like the silent chronicle of the fall of a precious crystal keepsake from an innocent hand. I can not fathom how anyone could fail to be moved. Kinski is wonderfully subdued so that he balances perfectly with cast, setting and filming. The story has a Chekov feel to it.
The protagonist is a musically-gifted young woman (hence, a
"woman-child") who is an outcast both from her cold, uncaring family
and from her village. She shares an unusual friendship with an older
man (Klaus Kinski), also an outcast.
Comparisons between this film and, say, "Lolita" are inevitable, because of the characters' age difference and because of one scene where she dances costumed like a gypsy, to the seeming delight of Kinski's character. There is also one scene (filmed tastefully from the back) where she climbs into the bath while he is in the same room.
But to focus on these elements is to miss the point of the film -- that, because they are estranged from everyone else, they must draw strength from one another. Kudos to writer-director Raphaelle Billetdoux for this lovely, bittersweet film about the loneliness and pain of growing up; of being different; and, quite simply, of having to live; beautifully photographed, with a vivid performance from the young actress and an unusually sensitive performance by Kinski as the girl's companion and confidante.
I saw this film in the theater 25 years ago and have remembered scenes
from it ever since, but I was always frustrated in my attempts to see
it a second time. No release on VHS or DVD stateside. I even used to
ask friends visiting Paris to try and hunt down a copy for me. Well, it
was finally released in France in September,2007. I had no difficulty
ordering the DVD through Amazon FR. It does NOT have subtitles AND you
will need a region-free VCR in order to watch it. Perhaps someday NEW
YORKER FILMS, which brought this movie to American theaters 25 years
ago, will issue this DVD for our region and with English subtitles.
Simple and poetic. Mournful and strange. A minor masterpiece.
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