As France is nearing the end of the first Indochina War, an open-minded teenage boy finds himself torn between a rebellious urge to discover love, and the ever-present, almost dominating affection of his beloved mother.
This is a jolly coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy named Laurent Chevalier who is growing up in bourgeois surroundings in Dijon, France. This is France in the mid-1950s rather than America in the 1990s. Thus, Laurent is unharmed by events which would irreparably shatter the self-esteem of a modern American adolescent: he gets drunk, he smokes, he has sex, he is smothered by his mother, he is ignored by his father, a priest makes a pass at him, he gets rheumatoid fever, etc. There's enough scandalous behavior in this film to make 100 made-for-TV movies, and yet this is a very happy and oddly innocent tale.Written by
Tim Horrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the opening sequence, Laurent and his friend walk the streets collecting money for charity. Laurent's friend's socks are pushed down, but when they decide to "try somewhere else," the shot of the two walking away shows the socks pulled up. In the next shot, they're down again. See more »
SInce this is your first time, I'll take off my bra. But you'll have to help me put it back on. You think I have a nice figure? Do you like me? I've put on some weight lately. The food's so good around here. I hear your friends are paying for this. Nice of them. Is it your birthday? What soft skin! Softer than mine. You okay? Frightened? Don't you worry. I'm very gentle. Everything will be just fine. Just do as I say. I excite you a little, don't I? Let me lie down and you get on top. Ha-ha. ...
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Only in France would an otherwise typical coming-of-age comedy lead up to a tender moment of incest, and perhaps only Louis Malle could have filmed it with such grace, tact, and good humor. The director's adolescent alter-ego is a gangly, jazz-happy son of a wealthy gynecologist, teased by his two older brothers, coddled by his cosmopolitan young mother, and suspicious of his father confessor's less than spiritual attentions. The discovery of a heart murmur sends him and his mother to a distant spa, where fate and nature conspire toward a fleeting indiscretion. But because Malle takes the time to establish his characters, and does so with such obvious affection, the moment is not as racy or obscene as it sounds. Curiously, the young hero's growing pains are also linked to his country's problems in Indochina, so is it any wonder, with the adult world in such turmoil, that a boy would rebel against the conventional wisdom of his elders?
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