14 October 1999 | dan-c
Sometimes good directing and acting can save a strange plot.
Warning: The plot is partially revealed in the comment !
La petite Allumeuse roughly translates to "the little smart thing". The title refers to the main character of the film, 14 year old Camille. The film is a surprisingly good mix of comedy and drama with a little bit of social realism thrown in.
Camille is at the same time a vulnerable young teenager and a strong-willed seductress, who makes her camp counsellor Jean-Louis fall for her. Jean-Louis, who by the way also is a friend and a colleague of her teacher-father, experiences his second youth when starting dating Camille after their return to the city. Good acting by both Roland Giraud as Jean-Louis and Alice Papiersky as Camille helps make this part of the film rather sweet. Theirs is a dangerous, but romantic love. They don't go "all the way". This is actually more of a family film with "real people" in it than well the kind of film you might think it was. The film can be seen by (older) teens as well as adults.
It is a growing-up film as well with Camille not only spending time dating Jean-Louis but also having the time to live a normal teenage life and having not only the normal conflicts, a teenager has with her parents, but also the conflicts coming from living with her divorcee-mother, who isn't very mentally stabile.
The different relationships between the characters in the film are complex. It is a comedy-drama, but it is a very French comedy-drama. This film could make the lives of Woody Allen-New Yorkers seem rather normal and straightforward. The social circles are rather small too. A good example is that Jean-Louis at a point in the film loses Camille to a former pupil of his, Samuel.
The relationship with her new and much younger love is actually much more adult than Camilles relationship with Jean-Louis. Not only has Camille her sexual debut with Samuel but she also has a seemingly normal relationship with him. This relationship helps Camille, now 15, to grow up more, sadly for her in more than one way, but the rest of the plot shall remain unrevealed by me.
Camille and her life make up a big part of the film, but we also get to learn a lot about the different adults around her and their lives. If some of the things she does isn't that normal well then she isn't that different from her family and their circles of friends. As said before this is a very French film with some complex people. It's a good film though. Sometimes good directing and acting can save even a very strange plot. In this case it does.