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Le petit amour (1988)
"Kung-fu master!" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama  |  November 1989 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 410 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 3 critic

Mary-Jane asks, "Do all women fall in love with a boy, or just those without sons?" She's divorced with two daughters, Lucy and Loulou. Lucy has a party where Mary-Jane notices Julien, 14, ... See full summary »

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Title: Le petit amour (1988)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mary-Jane
...
Julien
...
Lucy
Lou Doillon ...
Lou
Gary Chekchak ...
Un jeune
Cyril Houplain ...
Un jeune
Frank Laurent ...
Un jeune
Aurélien Hermant ...
Un jeune
Jérémie Luntz ...
Un jeune
Thomas Bensaïd ...
Un jeune
Pénélope Pourriat ...
Une jeune
Ninon Vinsonneau ...
Une jeune
Bégonia Leis ...
Une jeune
Eva Simonet ...
L'amie
Judy Campbell ...
La mère
Edit

Storyline

Mary-Jane asks, "Do all women fall in love with a boy, or just those without sons?" She's divorced with two daughters, Lucy and Loulou. Lucy has a party where Mary-Jane notices Julien, 14, small and brassy, but she sees a sensitive side. She contrives to spend time with him and lets him know she's available to him. He's on the cusp between child and man, alternating between playing a video game, Kung Fu Master, where he tries to rescue Sylvie, and joining friends in bluff talk about sexual exploits. As Lucy realizes what is happening, she's repulsed, but Mary-Jane, encouraged by her own mother, carries on. Is it love or jealousy of lost youth? Is there any way this can end well? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He was 15. She was 40. Love is where you find it.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

November 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le petit amour  »

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Connections

Features Spitting Image (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Manifeste
Written and Performed by Les Berurier Noir
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User Reviews

 
Appearances, desire
10 July 2015 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

The story here is about a woman falling for the 14 year old classmate of her daughter's, but forget about the story now, it's not a prurient film of course and seeing just a 'social issue' movie would miss the whole point. This is a small exercise on context by Varda but as astute as ever.

Varda seems to be parodying the notion that what relevance the work has would be merely social by having the AIDS scare of the time so prevalent throughout - the film is from the late 80s, it evinces a distinct air of the time when youths crowded arcade parlors and TV segments on HIV sounded doom for mankind - or preempts it, perhaps unsure herself if it's not unavoidably going to be that in the end.

No, I see this as more deeply about the narrative horizon in which things acquire their significance. See this with me.

The woman who simply has these feelings one day that threaten to bring down everything, in context of what she experiences, it's a real affection for the boy, it shakes her in earnest. The boy who acts all grownup around her, bringing her flowers like a man would, later in a hotel plans to seduce her, but we see that he becomes just a kid with his peers or always off to a video game.

The film's title comes from a video game that he plays in the arcade parlor, in the game's nested story-within a hero fights monsters to make it all the way to the top level so he can set free a princess kept prisoner. We'd like to think of love in this way, as something that frees us, but what if it's sometimes fiction, a game? Meaning, the woman is simply not mindful that the boy inhabits a wholly different context than hers, simply playing a game of love.

It's this that Varda marvelously depicts later in a scene where the kids are goofing with Nazi paraphernalia in a room, a parent who walked in and thought the kids have strayed into budding Nazism would have only been misled by appearances, inhabiting a horizon in which objects are charged with their narrative significance. But as the scene plays out it's evidently just another game for them.

This is the exercise, on how phenomena give rise to illusory narrative, on how illusory narrative traps us in illusory significance, chimeras of our desires. In my ongoing project I'm after filmmakers who abet mindfulness, the wisdom that comes from it, it's in this sense that I appreciate Varda.


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