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Karl E. Landler
Despite attempting for a UK PG rating at the time producer "David Puttnam" was told by BBFC censor "James Ferman" that the film had to be given a 15 as the story concerned an underage girl losing her virginity. Puttnam later claimed that the star was over 18 and the film contained no nudity or obscene language, and the 15 certificate had lost the film most of its intended audience. See more »
French Lesson was given an all-too-brief theatrical run in 1986 (the competition was strong that year with Ferris Bueller and Pretty in Pink dominating the screens). However, if you can get ahold of the VHS from Warner you'll be in for a treat.
The story is simple, but the characters are a little more complex than usual: Jenny, a British teenager, has left home for the first time and is going to college in Paris (the time is the early '60's) Soon, she is smitten with a local Parisian (who seems like the right guy for her - he sure is handsome enough). Although he is a romantic guy, Jenny REALLY wants to be wooed: all she asks is he recite a few lines to her from Romeo and Juliet...something that would really put her on cloud nine and, alas, something he finds a tad idiotic. Jenny is crushed when he outright refuses, but prevails. From then on she runs into situation after situation in dealing with her crazy friends, a few other young men who find her attractive (including one that is already married) and, lastly, her French host family (headed over by a strict Madame Paroche who is none too pleased to see Jenny having any sort of social life whatsoever!). Will Jenny get the man of her dreams after all (and if so, on her own terms)? As Jenny finds out, first-time love is wonderful, but it's not without its share of troubles.
The film is perfectly paced and the cinematography captures Paris in the Fall like no other film in recent memory: the slightly gray skies, sometimes damp streets, sunny parks, the stone buildings...all perfectly rendered. As a romantic comedy/drama, this film has it all and it's a darn shame it isn't more widely acknowledged. Perhaps Warner will issue a remastered DVD in the near future? If not, track down the cassette and give it a watch - this is a cannot-miss affair.
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