A quietly stirring film, both of unrequited love, and of a love that cannot be. Everyone in the film seems to guard their hearts, perhaps due to past hurts as Honoré guides us through the pitfalls of love and the human condition. It ask the question, can real love ever work, or can young love be the killer? As a bonus, Lea Seydoux gives a wonderful performance in one of her earlier roles.
Lea Seydoux stars as Junie, a young girl who ends up having quiet an effect on two different young men, in this relazed and enjoyable slice of drama from Christophe Honore (inspired by the book by Madame de La Fayette). It's nothing new, and even the presentation is rather simple and straightforward, but the cast make it work very well, with Seydoux believable as the kind of girl that can attract such attention.
A story weaving strands of fluid attraction. Youth in its insecurities and double dealings, yet sensitively told, nuanced and so less predictable than the Hollywood fare. I liked the fact that there were gaps to fill in and so much was unspoken. The central character is indeed a very beautiful person. But who was there to catch the most fragile of all when they fell?
Honoré wasnt the first to discover that the archaic codes of classical literature could work to perfection in the high-school milieu (cf CRUEL INTENTIONS) La Princesse de Cleves isn't even an original choice: Manoel de Oliveira had made his own 'up-daptation' a decade earlier. But this film showcases a devastatingly beautiful gallery of young French faces circa '08, which make it utterly compelling.
This is a film about a school that - were I teenaged again - I'd definitely want to go to. Impromptu photoshoots in the hallways (using vintage film cameras, bien sûr), huge old doorways with peeling paint and a student body of insouciant model-types involved in complex romantic entanglements. Classes discussing Donizetti. A stunning librarian. Anais Demoustier shows up! Much to enjoy, not a terrible hour and a half.
Lea Seydoux makes people suicidal, a creepy teacher stalks her and in the end it turns into a musical. This weird film is annoyingly self-couscious about its own french coolness, yet lacks any visual edge, believable main character and plot devices that doesn't feel like a soap opera. Merci, non.