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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Spoiler) It takes at least two thirds of the movie to get the notion that it is an Agnès Vardas film and see where she is going with it. And then it might become interesting, as a discomforting, (but very relevant) exercize: invert the perspective in what is a classical theme, the boy that is initiated sexually by an adult woman. By telling the story through her eyes (not his myth creating narrative) it's edgy.