I thought I had a read on this (that it was showing the disconnect between JB's character's romantic fantasies, the lies she tells herself and her predatory actions, how cruel and destructive those actions are to everyone around her, that this isn't about any actual "love"), and I think it is, but idk. Madame Bovary as Humbert Humbert.
The subject of adolescent male desire for an older woman is fascinating, but Le Petit Amour fails to enlighten. Instead, the abusive relationship is played as lighthearted, innocuous, misunderstood. Too often are real-life cases of female predators molesting young boys normalized, written off as the fulfillment of male fantasy. No degree of sexual repression, isolation, or loneliness makes this abuse comprehensible.
In-between the imaginary and the symbolic identification there is in this film the supplementation of the self, desire is located in the role playing game, be it rescuing the damsel (as kung-fu master) or the heart (as pathological lover). In this setting Varda finds the last possible first love; as all true first loves are a sin against nature. What is life without its beautiful misunderstandings?
I was reminded of a year wherein my oldest sister's birthday came a few weeks after finally divorcing a man she had two children with but no longer loved; on that day we planned a dinner out but she suffered a crying fit and refused to leave her bed. Her behavior seemed so puzzling and silly at the time, but upon seeing this film I'm sorry I failed to recognize the beauty in her vulnerability at that age.
"I had not seen the film in a long time. When I saw it recently, I said: ‘I don’t think we could make a film like this today and show it.’ Today everything is so heavy; people are afraid of everything... Afraid of rape, afraid of pedophilia... all the scandals w/ the priests. We are in a very self conscious, dangerous period now. But it wasn’t this dark when we made the film. - Varda to Miranda July, Fandor 3.5 stars
I think only Varda could've gotten away with this, and even so, it's a little queasy. Jane Birkin is great and it's a pleasure to see her with her daughter Charlotte. Beautifully shot, of course, and I think the provocation is sensitively done. But still....there's a little ew to it.
Charlotte For Ever comes out a year before this. I assume that, in the course of making a documentary with Varda, she could half-improvise her own version of that incestuous tale that is less threatening and more childhood romance; she delivers her voiceover in this pitchy sing-song. Varda had her own son be her Charlotte, who wasn't too happy about her house being occupied for two movies in a row.
Impressive. I wonder how often situations like this happen? I like the tension throughout the film. Kung-fu Master is a great title for this movie. Very well casted. The actors have interesting faces. Jane Birkin looks like David Bowie in this film. Mixture of Lolita and Karate Kid.
An interesting film that delves into risky territory as far as a woman falling in love with a teenage boy. However this film made the viewer see a real relationship between the two. Something that was interesting was the parallels that the film had with the game of Kung-Fu Master. Mary-Jane trying to make it to Julien but things kept standing in the way and when the Julien finally beats the game the film ends.
An innocent love sprung up by a chance interaction between a mother of two, and her daughter’s classmate, Julien. The movie focuses on the 20+ age gap between Julien and Mary-Jane, the mother of Julien’s classmate.The two both make an effort to spend time together, as if they were dating. It appears that their relationship becomes a juvenile form of love.
My understanding is once a child is violated by an adult the shadows of that transmit into their relationships for the rest of their life. The main character gestures to that trauma. I'm very confused as to what dialogue a film would create about pedophilia beyond that. In my mind it is one of the worst crimes a human can commit... and there is no and yet for me.
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.
This delighted me. Varda creates a delicate play between the unconventional affair and ultra-conventional (or "universal," as others have said) behavior. I particularly liked the mother's slinking into subordinate intellectual roles for the 14-year-old, and her mixed admiration for and fear of her daughter.