After her first film "Oublie-moi" (1994) for which she was also the co-writer, Noémie Lvovsky has concentrated mostly on screen writing until "Petites", an impressive film made for Franco-German TV channel Arte, later expanded into "La vie ne me fait pas peur"/"Life doesn't scare me", this time made for the silver screen (see that entry). Impressive... but without any eyewash, "Petites" is mostly a bittersweet approach to the feelings of teenage girls as only a woman could depict.
The story is about four ordinary girls, a little group growing up in France at the end of the 1970s. Emilie (Magali Woch), Stella (Julie-Marie Parmentier), Inès (Ingrid Molinier) and Marion (Camille Rousselet) come from different social backgrounds but share the same problems. They deal with some unstable parents (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Jean-Luc Bideau shine as Emilie's parents), have hard times at school... They are also at the tender age when they begin to look for boyfriends. Emilie is self-conscious about her weight and is bullied by other students, Stella is more confident, Marion is shy and Inès has to deal with her foreign (Spanish) origin. Nevertheless, the girls know that they will never be separated.
Although I have watched "Petites" more than ten years ago and forgotten many details, I remember I was impressed by the re-creation of the late 70s in this film. Orange or bright green sweaters, vintage music, the atmosphere in the classrooms, the cars, people's behaviors... Yes, everything looked so true, so real ! Noémie Lvovsky made the best out of a small budget, and her wonderful quartet of actresses certainly helped ! Marion, Inès, Emilie and Stella literally take your heart away. Funny and moving, the film is also a good representative of the "New French Cinema". Noémie Lvovsky went on with her writing/directing career but interestingly enough, she is more and more successful as an actress today (more especially in "Actrices", directed by her friend Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and in "Les beaux gosses/"The French Kissers").
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