For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
MUBI Rental
1,333 Ratings

Le petit amour

Kung-Fu master

Directed by Agnès Varda
France, 1988
Drama, Romance
  • French
  • English, German, Portuguese


On a rainy day in spring, Mary-Jane, a woman of almost 40, falls in love, or rather slides in love with a boy of nearly 15, Julien, a classmate of her daughter.

Our take

Agnès Varda’s Le petit amour sees real life mother and daughter Jane Birkin and Charlotte Gainsbourg exchange roles in a quietly transgressive look at the family institution that is both delicate and fun. Varda’s sensitivity is magnificent.

Le petit amour Directed by Agnès Varda

What are people saying?

  • .Ana.'s rating of the film Le petit amour

    A subtle and exquisite film that touches on the mysterious subject of impossible love. Birkin's character made me think about a timelessness when it comes to love; as if she were living a naïve, teenage, pure-as-can-be love that no longer fits her own age nor while it matches her lover's. Agnès is simply outstanding. <3

  • EdieEmm's rating of the film Le petit amour

    If you can manage empathy, and I sympathize with those that can't, but if you can... my god, Varda's made the most profound universally relatable love story I have ever seen. Fear and risk and vulnerability and shame and well, fuck it, looks like I'm about to do this because there goes my better judgment... love. Biggest mystery, indeed! Not sure I've ever been so riveted by an emotionally-driven film. Well done. 4.5

  • El Biffo's rating of the film Le petit amour

    Definitely the most unsettling film I have ever seen by Agnes Varda (I have seen at least 12). I won't judge the story, but to say that it borders on pedophilia is an understatement. I don't see this as the teen fantasy that some may take it for; I found it deeply disturbing. But that can be a good sign; art should make you feel something, even if it is profound revulsion. Birkin and Gainsbourg are perfect.

  • Matthew Martens's rating of the film Le petit amour

    Upon its initial release, Caryn James declared that ''Kung Fu Master is foolish and self-indulgent beyond compare [...] much too stupid to be offensive." To which I say: Pish. My biases--affection for both Jane Birkin and her daughter; fond memories of my own early adolescent triumph over Nintendo's port of Kung Fu--can't obscure the virtues of Varda's strangely delicate interplay of desire, difficulty, and disease.

  • Zac Weber's rating of the film Le petit amour

    There are parts that feel very uncomfortable, but at the same time, I couldn't help but feel intrigued. Agnes Varda's ability to juggle those emotions will be what I remember most. I love the way the camera moves in her films.

  • Chichago_'s rating of the film Le petit amour

    Although the story of an older women having a relationship with a 15-years-old boy somehow disturbs me, the cinematography is beautiful. A particular scene where Lucy answered Mary-Jane's question –"what makes a boy better?"– is very interesting.

  • msmichel's rating of the film Le petit amour

    Jane Birkin and Agnes Varda wrote this touching, sympathetic yet somewhat disturbing tale about a love that develops between a 40 year old woman (Birkin) and a 14 year old boy played by Mathieu Demy (Varda's son). While not provocative or controversial the film's conceit still raises an eyebrow especially by current standards. Performances, mostly enacted by the respective Birkin and Varda clans, are authentic.

  • Max Seqgar's rating of the film Le petit amour

    Loved it! but what is truly scandalous is to read the comments here... it's like years move forward, and our morality walks backwards. Varda here takes a double stab at 80's morals re: AIDS & multi-generation affairs... shouldn't we be better at this already?

Related films