The lovely Valandrey is cast as a romantic 15-year-old French girl who, in 1952, finds herself caught between politics and love when she meets Wilson, an opportunistic magazine photographer in his early 20s. Following in her parents' footsteps, Valandrey earns money by selling Communist
newspapers on the streets of Paris. She also participates in a youth rally, which results in a merciless beating by some corrupt policemen. Wilson sees the battered, unconscious beauty and brings her to his apartment. Instead of tending to her injuries, however, he photographs her bloodied face.
Valandrey is attracted to Wilson but turns off to him when she realizes that he is not a Communist. Her devotion to the Reds is just too great for romance to get in the way. She prefers writing letters to Stalin and knitting him a gift of slippers (decorated with the symbolic hammer and sickle).
As much as she tries to resist Wilson and stand her political ground, she cannot. One evening, at Wilson's apartment, the two sleep together--their growing love for each other paying no heed to the age difference between them. As a result, her devotion to the party begins to wane. She arrives late
to sell her newspapers, incurring the wrath of her father. Her friends at the local Communist youth group take offense and eject her from the organization because she has fallen in love with someone outside the party. The real reason, however, is that the male party members are jealous because
they cannot get her into bed. Her relationship with both her parents and the party is altered further when Terzieff, a former lover of her mother's, arrives in France after years of exile and torture in the Soviet Union. At a Communist meeting celebrating his return, a drunken Terzieff violently
disavows Communism, stating how inhumane and repressive it is. Afterward, Valandrey overhears a conversation between Terzieff and her mother, Keller. She learns that they were once lovers and that she is actually Terzieff's daughter. Realizing that her father is not who she thought, and that
Communism is not what she thought, Valandrey has serious doubts about her own identity. Wilson and Valandrey run away to the south of France, but their idyllic state is interrupted when Valandrey's father presses charges against Wilson for taking advantage of his underage daughter. Valandrey is
destroyed and tries to get Wilson to stay, but she is too late--he has enlisted in the army and is about to be shipped off.
A thoroughly insightful, poignant, and romantic look at the enthusiasm of youth, RED KISS succeeds because it portrays its characters honestly. Valandrey, an absolutely gorgeous nymphet who carries the picture, is perfect as the girl in transition--sexually, intellectually, politically, and in
terms of her family. It is almost magical to watch the changes as they take place before the audience's eyes. RED KISS also succeeds beyond the romantic level. The strong anti-Communist urgings (which also reflect negatively on a blind association with any group, political or not) are surprisingly
complex. Throughout the film most of the action taken by the Communist party members (those selling the newspapers, the speakers at the meetings, the rioters, the youth group) is motivated by extrapolitical concerns. The boys in the youth group, which is little more than a social group, base the
expulsion of Valandrey on her sexual rejection of them (the group leader is a former boy friend of hers) instead of on any manifesto. The result is not a film about Communists in postwar France but about discovering personal independence and integrity. This is the second feature for Belmont, who
in 1979 made a pseudodocumentary attacking Red China called PRISONERS OF MAO and who has since 1965 been one of France's top producers. RED KISS received a US film festival release in 1986. (In French; English subtitles.)
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- Released: 1985
- Rating: NR
- Review: The lovely Valandrey is cast as a romantic 15-year-old French girl who, in 1952, finds herself caught between politics and love when she meets Wilson, an opportunistic magazine photographer in his early 20s. Following in her parents' footsteps, Valandrey e… (more)