At 14, Diane is an enigmatic teenager and a loner. She is busy bringing up her little brother, Marc, and has an intense relationship with her father, Christian. The appearance of Julia, a young charismatic and emancipated English girl, in her neighbourhood turns Diane’s everyday life upside down. Diane, who wants to break the bounds of childhood at any price, goes through the most dramatic experiences of her life in the space of six months. The closer she is to Julia, the more she turns her back on morality, paying no attention to the consequences or the limits of her desires.
This French movie is somewhat similar to the overrated American indie film “Thirteen” that came out a few years back. It involves a young teenage girl (Solene Rigot) who is still an inexperienced virgin despite some casual fumblings with a male “friend with benefits”. When a perhaps older, and definitely more experienced, girl (Audrey Bastien) moves in next door to her, they become friends, and the virgin follows the promiscuous neighbor into various sexual adventures like a near threesome with an older bartender (in a hotel room adjoining the room of one of the girl’s parents), and later an actual threesome while on the standard French-movie holiday.
What I hated about “Thirteen” was the alarmist and hypocritically moralistic attitude. Everybody knows that many teenagers have sex, and a lot of males vividly remember having sex with teenage girls when they were teenagers or a little older. There’s no good reason to shy away from the subject like American films do (except maybe in PG-13 movies actually aimed at impressionable teenagers), and if you’re worried about creepy male adults, there’s certainly no shortage of “barely legal” XXX porn in America–I doubt they bother much with movies like this. French movies don’t necessarily glamorize teen sex, but they don’t treat it as purely comical and consequence-free when the protagonist are horny teenage guys, and then turn around and become horribly alarmist when the protagonists are teenage girls. They treat it seriously, but also in a more matter-of-fact and in less judgmental matter.
The two actresses in “Thirteen” were actually about fifteen at the time and easily looked 20, so even though they didn’t show nudity or anything, they did NOT exactly de-glamorize teen sex, and as a result the movie seemed more than a little hypocritical. The actresses in this actually are over 18, but look younger, especially Solene Rigot. Her sex scenes are less graphic, but perhaps a little uncomfortable because she genuinely looks about 15. The more mature-looking Audrey Bastien has full-frontal nudity and pretty graphic sex scenes, but even this actually feels more honest and less exploitative than most American films on this subject.
The one problem though is the end, which I won’t reveal, but it’s a VERY common plot twist in French movies like “In a Wild Moment” and “Girls Can’t Swim” that probably has less to do with the real-life behavior of teenage girls than it does the sex fantasies of middle-age men. The female director can’t help but indulge in this too, but it is not treated in a very exploitative manner (and is the least graphic of the sex scenes). I also appreciated that the very end was not the consequence-free ending of “In a Wild Moment” OR the ridiculously melodramatic ending of “Girls Can’t Swim”, even if some reviewers did find it frustratingly open-ended.
Director: Delphine Lehericey
Writers: Martin Coiffier, Delphine Lehericey
Stars: Solène Rigot, Audrey Bastien, Vincent Perez
Country: Belgium | Switzerland | Luxembourg | France
Language: French | English
Release Date: 30 April 2021 (Germany)
Also Known As: Puppylove
Filming Locations: Cudrefin, Switzerland
Format : MPEG-4
Format profile : Base Media
Codec ID : isom (isom/iso2/avc1/mp41)
File size : 1.61 GiB
Duration : 1 h 24 min
Overall bit rate : 2 727 kb/s