La première fois que j'ai eu 20 ans (2004) Poster

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Absolutely cool!
blahusf5 January 2007
This is a story about 15 years old student. She is not a beauty, she could be much slimmer, she is lonely, but she is so cool and intelligent. She got troubles because she is Jewish, she is pubescent, her family takes care too much about her and she is really good jazz bass player - better than every boy in the town. She is trying to pass the exam and play in school jazz-band, where girl is not acceptable. Till now... But what she must tolerate to stay in the band! How persevering she is! This is wonderful, intelligent, relaxing comedy, which you should see. (Similar to My Big Fat Greek Wedding but not so romantic)
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a French dramedy with jazz
LeonStyloroy23 May 2007
This thoughtful French film takes place in France in the 50's and centers around Hannah, a Jewish teenager just doesn't fit in. She aspires to be in her school's jazz band. In this school, the jazz band is like the football team - iconic, legendary, dripping with school spirit, and traditionally all-male. Hannah wails on the bass, and not surprisingly gets into the band - but there her troubles just begin.

At its heart the movie is a series of pranks exchanged by Hannah and the other boys in the band, but it weaves its main theme of discrimination in carefully. Like the best movies, you'll feel enlightened by a moral, but feel as though you figured it out for yourself. Anti-semitism is dealt with, but mostly Hannah is discriminated for being a girl. Also, the movie touches on the topic of homophobia - but lightly, and not nearly enough to have an opinion.

However, at it's heart the movie is a typical teen fitting-in story. The swing of the 50's adds a fun backdrop. Although Hannah does not go from pauper to princess, it is nice to watch her gradually make peace and overcome her sullen shyness to speak her mind and be heard. One of the nicest elements is the inclusion of Hannah's crazy family. She has two older sisters, both superficial French beauties who constantly chide her for overeating (French is, after all, a language where there's a verb meaning "to get fat".) Her mom is bustling and controlling, and her dad is a lovable hothead. At first she seems totally out of place in her family, but as the film goes on you start to see the thoughtful side of her sisters and the way her whole family sticks up for one another.

I usually don't like movies with subtitles, but the French is not too affecting for the average English speaker, and it just doesn't stop the film from being very entertaining. The subtitles work, and you can hear the character's emotions just fine even when you have no idea what they're saying. The contrast of Hannah's sullen, depressed voice and the silky French spoken by her sisters helps create their personalities right away. There are many good jokes, and a lot of them are situation comedy, so an English speaker can understand them. My only problem with the film is the lack of fireworks at the end. I won't give anything away, but I will say that I still wanted the members of the band to get it a lot worse before the reconciliations rolled around.

All in all, this is a fun movie that has a good balance of entertainment and intelligence. If you want a foreign film that will hold your interest as effortlessly as an English one will, you'll find it in this film.

It should be noted that a wee tad of graphic nudity ought to scare off the chilluns.
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Minor correction
TatraMan16 January 2014
Just a minor point but I've just been watching this film on French TV (Channel D17 on 16/01/2014) and it's actually set in the early '60s, not the '50s as LeonStyloroy says.

The family's Peugeot 404 wasn't introduced until 1960 and there's also a '64 Panhard PL17 in the movie but the red 1970 Simca 1000 may be an anachronism.

However, the Jacques Dutronc track one of the characters was listening to ("Les Play Boys"?) was released in 1966 on his first (self titled) album.

Irrespective of any of that, it's a gem of a film even if you see it in French without English subtitles.
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Jewish teen girl breaks into all-male school jazz band
Bernie15722 March 2007
This is a French film with English subtitles about a chubby but pretty high school Jewish girl who isn't happy with her life.

However she competes for a spot in an all-boy school jazz band, playing a super "double bass" violin, and wins. Before and after winning, she has to put up with many pranks by the non-Jewish boys in the band.

All the characters and actors in this film as well as the main topic and sub-topics, are a pleasure to watch. The girl's parents, sisters, and uncle are especially well written and played.

There is one scene of male frontal nudity so perhaps not suitable for small children.
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