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Anna a young teenager comes home from her Catholic boarding school for the holidays and discovers her father has left. Her mother is devastated and confined in the company of the local priest, who is also a childhood friend. Anna clings to her beloved grandfather. She also grows close to Pierre, a free-spirited teenager who cares little about God. Anna is preparing for her confirmation, but her budding desire for Pierre shakes her faith. She longs to give herself over, body and soul... but doesn't know if it is to God, or something else? Written by
Les films du Bélier
Teening can be tough. But most of the angst of adolescence is (for the rest of us, forever having to hear about it) a big yawn. What makes "Love Like Poison" (in French with English subtitles) worth watching? Brace yourself for stress (hers, not yours). It's all a bit too much (and too much all at once) for this fourteen year old girl: her parents are splitting up, her grandad is on his deathbed, her confirmation (Catholic) is looming, and then there's physical maturing at a gallop, an ambiguous relationship with her mother, an ambiguous relationship with the local priest, an ambiguous relationship with a local boy who seems to be even younger than she is. You name it, the agony is piled on. And yet the luminous personality of Anna (Clara Augarde) shines through. This isn't a splurge of self pity. We care about what's happening to her, because she's worth caring about.
Anna is intense. In past ages her vocation would have been obvious: she would become a nun. The "burden of spirituality" weighs upon her - she literally faints when it overwhelms. But who or what will win her soul?
God and the ache of her idealistic young spirit (she encounters an
appealing "young church" and an unappealing "old church"); or will it be the sharp tingle of the body, symbolised by her sensual grandfather (who wants her to read an erotic poem at his funeral); or will it be the love she has for her agreeable but ineffectual father; or the love she has for her dominating mother (who is experiencing her own crisis of identity); or will it be possible for Anna to achieve a level of autonomy and win her own soul? From French cinema we expect tension, balance and clarity. The subtlety in "Love Like Poison" seems to demand that we watch it at least twice, in order to fit all the pieces together properly. But do the pieces fit? - that will depend on you.
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