Thursday, September 3rd, 2015


17 year old Charlene (who goes by Charlie) just cannot wait to get to school so that she can escape the constant bickering of her parents.  She may love her father but she doesn’t like the way her mother allows him to ride rough shod over her and be so indiscreet about his dalliances with other women. They live in a small characterless house in an equally small French provincial town, so the arrival of Sarah a rather vivacious new addition to her school class who makes a beeline for her, is a very welcome breath of fresh air for shy and quiet Charlie.
Chain-smoking Sarah is a newcomer to town and regales her new best friend with tales of an exotic life she led with her mother who works in Nigeria and who had to reluctantly send her back to France to live with an Aunt when the political climate suddenly got very unstable. The two girls quickly become the best of friends and develop a very close relationship that just stops short of getting physical intimate, and so Charlie invites Sarah to join her family and friends on vacation at the seaside.
From the moment they arrive Sarah practically abandons Charlie as she flirts outrageously with Esteban who is considerably older, although he prefers Charlie’s mother anyway.  Not to be outdone she just as quickly turns her attention to a handsome young pilot who she practically throws herself at.  As quickly as Charlie realises that Sarah is revealing herself to be far from the perfect best friend that she desperately wanted her to be, she also discovers the truth about Sarah’s real family circumstances which are far removed from the glamorous picture that she had painted.
Once Sarah is aware that Charlie knows the truth she does everything in her power to ensure that she will not spill the beans to anyone else. The love that they both shared now quickly turns to sheer hate, at least on the part of Sarah, who never was quite as committed to their relationship as Charlie was. The lengths that she will go too are extraordinarily pernicious and when other classmates see this malignant behaviour go unchecked they express their concern to a rather distraught Charlie who still refuses to fight back. That is, until she is pushed just too far.
This sophomore movie directed by actress Mélanie Laurent is a melodrama about how passion is harmful when it becomes an obsession as so helpfully pointed out by Charlie’s teacher in one of the early scenes. This however falls on deaf ears in this case as this teenager with such an unhappy home life is desperate to grasp any possibility of love especially when it seems to have turned up in shape of her new best friend.  As much as she berates her mother for her co-dependency on her wayward father she does exactly the same with Sarah even though she must be aware that it cannot possible end well.

Laurent cast two exceptionally talented young actress Joséphine Japy and Lou de Laâge who give very naturalistic performances, particular Japy who is pitch perfect as the asthmatic downtrodden Charlie.  They add a very definite sexual frisson to the piece which adds to the uncertainty and the expectations of how this teenage relationship will play out.  It is certainly not one that can be predicted but somehow this climax seems the perfect way to end.


Posted by queerguru  at  20:16


Genres:  coming of age, drama, international

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