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A comedy that is both hilarious and insightful, destined for cult status
This comedy is easily comparable to the recent American teenage sex-romps, especially the American Pie series, however, at the same time it is a totally different movie. American Pie, as funny as it was, was not witty or intelligent. The French Kissers, directed by first-timer Riad Sattouf, is very funny, but also an accurate representation of what teenage boys experience in high school. Although not all just think of sex, all are curious. This movie follows Herve (Vincent Lacoste) and his best mate Camel (Anthony Sonigo) as they deal with bullies, homework, family, hormones and the girls they so long desire. There is no solid plot, rather, it is a disjointed series of events that happen during a year that summarise a hectic time for teenagers. Relationships are lost and started, tests and asssignments are forgotten about till the last minute, parents pry into their child's sex life, and friends hang out and talk about their latest fling or sexcapades.
What I find makes this movie so good is the performances of the actors, who instill such life into their characters. Lacoste is incredibly funny as the nerdy guy with low self-esteem, but whose hormones are constantly raging. Sonigo is just as funny as the heavy metal loving, mullet wearing best friend who longs for the most beautiful girl in the school. Alice Trémolière and Julie Scheibling are fantastic as Aurore and Laura, the two girls who Herve and Camel lust after with varying degrees of luck. One last mention should go to Noémie Lvovsky as Herve's mother, who never stops prying and loving her son. Honestly, her character was so believable not just because Lvovsky was so good, but I can relate as my mother was a lot like her. Which brings me the screenplay, which is great as it brings a sense of realism to all the proceedings. Nothing is too far-fetched in this movie, which brings it above most American comedies of this nature.
The soundtrack is excellent, and of course, Sattouf's direction is excellent. Yes, this is a very crude movie, with the majority of it being about sex and the various other activities a couple may get up to. Not everyone will enjoy it, the constant talk of masturbation, sex, french kissing (hence the title), and porn will put off people who do not feel comfortable with those subjects. But at the film's heart is a touching story of slowly discovering one's self, and thankfully Sattouf does not resort to sappiness and sentimentality with this theme. Unlike the many American comedies which end neatly with everything returning to normal, this ends in a way which mirrors how high school can really be (but I'm not going to spoil that here).
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