As France is nearing the end of the first Indochina War, an open-minded teenage boy finds himself torn between a rebellious urge to discover love, and the ever-present, almost dominating affection of his beloved mother.
Counting Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach among its fans, and drawing enviable comparisons to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, Louis Malle’s semi-comic, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age classic tackles taboo subject matter—incest—honestly, intelligently, and with a humorous, witty approach.
I really loved this film. Great performances all around, especially from youngster Benoit Ferreux. This movie explores the influence of family on a young male's sexual development. It comes off as deeply personal because it is so rich with detail and the characters feel so fully realized. In short, this film is well worth your two hours!
This is a joyous movie, full of life and laughs, but also quite melancholy. Malle has a light touch, and he recalls Truffaut at the height of his career, but he has a style all his own. The events flow by fluidly, and there are just some sublime moments. And of course there's the great soundtrack. Laurent and Clara are great characters, I'll never forget them. Malle gives a whole new meaning to the word Freudian.
That moment at the end of the film, when Laurent walks back into his hotel room after a sordid evening to find his father and brothers sitting down for breakfast, and–maybe to cut the tension, maybe for lack of any appropriate response–they all begin to collapse in laughter with one another: that's cinema.
Hmmm. Gonna have to sit with this one for a while. If, as I believe, Laurent does that because of an attempt to cut off Oedipal attraction, then that seems simplistic in the extreme. If it, as the Criterion essay argues, is an act of liberation for the two then I'm even more confused. If it is trying to explore the taboo topic with complexity, it brings it up too late to really explore. A fascinating difficult film.
35mm. What is most interesting is the narrative fluidity in a period film, which includes scattering elements: Charlie Parker in the soundtrack and the intellectual interests of the director's generation, especially if we stick to the age of the protagonist - not only Proust and Vian, but also the magnificents Huysmans and Montherlant. However, it lacks more dynamics beyond its formal control and fictional program.
You might call its effects on me 'quintessential' cinema; at once ambivalent about its ends while being completely swept up in its liveliness (naughtiness). The vignette structure would be an ethical compromise if it wasn't playing the long con, testing to find our own boundaries and the point they feel breached. That family dynamics occur naturely and rather closed off is depicted pretty remarkably.
I adored this family, this is now one of my most cherished films.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing during certain scenes, but I also found nothing wrong with it. It all seemed so very normal. And it is .