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Isild Le Besco,
Gwen is a teenager living in a small coastal town. Lise is her best friend, a city girl who comes every year with her family to spend the summer. This year things are different though; at first Lise might not come at all, and when she does it is obvious that Gwen grew up faster than she did. Written by
Marcelo R. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the end of the twentieth Century, the teenage movie came back into vogue in the landscape of the French cinema, this movie made by Anne-Sophie Birot confirms it and reveals her own approach in the content and form about the difficult condition of being a teenager.
By dividing her movie in 3 chapters, by delaying the meeting between the 2 main characters, Anne Sophie Birot takes the viewer by surprise. In the first 2 parts, the female director takes her time to draw the portrait of her 2 young interprets and to place them in their respective family circles before making them meet. Their families don't belong to the same social level but are eventually similar on one point: they're on the verge of disintegration. First, Gwen whose family background is very modest. She is lovely and by embarking on overnight love affairs, she knows her first sexual excitements. It's for her the sole way to escape from a tense familial cocoon between a lazy and alcoholic father and a mother who does her best to make ends meet. Now about Lise, the big house in which she lives makes us deduce that she belongs to an upper-class category whose climate is hardly better than to Gwen's. The death of her father plunged her whole family in bitterness and sorrow. Her mother, especially seems to break into pieces. So, to escape this dreary universe, Lise, secretly goes by coach to meet her long-time friend...
As soon as the two friends are together for the holidays, the movie seems to go on, at first in this dreamy perspective. But bit by bit, disagreement grows, the tension that reigned in the two families has overwhelmed the two friends. As a result, there's a detachment and a distance from Lise. Anne Sophie Birot proceeds by little touches and with subtlety to let suggest the reasons of this split. Very simply, Lise is jealous of Gwen's beauty. It is the time of first teenage loves. Gwen is pretty, slender and has no trouble seducing boys whereas Lise due to her little attractive physical appearance is completely eclipsed by her friend when it comes to seduction. So, rancor, jealousy even betrayal suffer into her which lead her to nearly separation with her all time confidant and the director isn't afraid to end her work with an abrupt ending which tips it out in blackness making the viewer feel unwell.
Once again, here's a movie which has the merit to show that it is not an easy thing to be in one's teenage years. Furthermore, real love seems to be omitted from the work. For example, Gwen seems to have love affairs with several boys, but it's more a means to assert herself to go away from a ponderous household . And the female director is buoyed up by her two young interprets whose roles seem to fit them like a glove. For the rest, I will retain this irregularity. According to Gwen, Lise is a brilliant student but in the beginning of the film, we learn that she failed at her GCSE. She handed in a blank sheet of paper but we don't know much about what might have explained her behavior. It would have been wiser and more consistent to make her pass her exam so as to solidify her personality and to better prepare the sequel.
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