28 May 2005 | dat010203
Very nice film, two great performances
I have news for you. Claudia, as beautiful as she is, is not the most beautiful person in this film. That would be Jacque Perrin. He was 19 when the film was made (his character is 16), and the camera lingers on him in scene after scene.
The story is simple: Perrin's character falls for Claudia. She's an adult, he's not. She's poor, he's nobility.
Perrin's understated performance is a dead-on portrait of adolescent longing. His eyes tell the whole story. It's difficult to imagine that any man could watch him without experiencing flashbacks to his own adolescence. He doesn't know whether to hope, or not, but he can't help hoping anyway. He doesn't know anything about adult courtship, so he improvises as he goes along. He's unfailingly, achingly, kind and polite (see first clause, previous sentence). He's brave, as he pushes against, and sometimes breaks, the rules that bind a young man not yet old enough to make his own rules.
Claudia, meanwhile, also provides a deeply thought performance, as a young woman whose poverty constrains her every move. She wants some tiny measure of security-- her fear of of the very real possibility of being out on the streets in palpable. She has no way to reach safety without depending on a man, but men have been awful to her. And, she wants desperately not to cross the final line of degradation and become a whore. She'll take money, but only if she can satisfy herself that it is a gift-- that is, only if she can feel that she still has some measure of choice in what happens next. Several men, including Perrin, are trying to "help" her. We see her hesitate, and calculate, in almost every conversation: trying to decide if the safety offered is real, calculating what she will have to give up if she accepts. Claudia is not in glamor mode here: she is beautiful, and the men are swarming around her, but her clothes are cheap, and she's living out of her suitcase.
This is a fine film, but it's not likely to be in anyone's top ten. I think most people will find it moving and well worth watching.
Why not a GREAT film? I think this is not so much because of particular flaws of the film, as because of its modest dimensions. The film is not trying to make a grand statement. It delivers deeply felt and moving drama, and two completely believable and interesting characters. Enough for me. P.S.: On the dubbed version, the voicing is surprisingly good.