“Love is a neverending battle — the young, the old, in the same boat.”
On the brink of WWII, 13-year-old Marie (Laetitia Chauveau) and her mother (Edith Clever) go to stay with Marie’s grandmother (Simone Signoret) in the French countryside. Marie develops a crush on a young doctor (Francis Huster), and is devastated when she finds out that her sensual mother is having an affair with him.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- French Films
- Jeanne Moreau Films
- Simone Signoret Films
Jeanne Moreau’s second directorial effort — after Lumiere (1976) — was this unassuming summer vacation tale, set in pre-WWII France. As is often the case with coming-of-age stories, L’Adolescente is ultimately more concerned with chronicling its teenage protagonist’s budding sexual awareness than with the plot itself. As a result, while Moreau does a fine, sensitive job portraying Marie’s transition from childhood to adolescence, we don’t learn nearly enough about Marie’s mother (well-played by Edith Clever) — a woman who appears happily married, yet doesn’t hesitate to carry out an affair which can only end badly for everyone involved.
Moreau also relies a bit too heavily on cliched characterizations, with one sequence in particular — an early montage of the sundry villagers (each “type” is represented) — detracting from the authenticity of Marie’s personal story. In addition, Philippe Sarde’s musical theme, while lilting and effective at first, soon becomes overused and annoying. Nonetheless, there are enough positive elements in L’Adolescente — including the welcome presence of Simone Signoret as Marie’s grandmother, and a fine performance by young Laetitia Chauveau — to make it worth seeking out.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Simone Signoret as Marie’s wise grandmother
- Laetitia Chauveau (who never made another film) as young Marie
- Beautiful cinematography of the French countryside
- An effective portrayal of a young girl’s first crush on an older man
No, but it’s recommended.