L'Effrontee

  • 2003
  • 1 HR 36 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

Director Claude Miller’s glorious coming-of-age movie is the French equivalent of MEMBER OF THE WEDDING (1952); four writers collaborated on this screenplay, but their handiwork is seamless. Raised by her overworked, impatient father, petulant 13-year-old Charlotte Castang (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is always at odds with both her peers and her elders in her...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Director Claude Miller’s glorious coming-of-age movie is the French equivalent of MEMBER OF THE WEDDING (1952); four writers collaborated on this screenplay, but their handiwork is seamless. Raised by her overworked, impatient father, petulant 13-year-old Charlotte Castang (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is always at odds with both her peers and her elders in her bourgeois community. A misfit by virtue of her tomboyish manner and lack of coordination, Charlotte graduates from grammar school with only two friends: her father's housekeeper, Leonie (Bernadette LaFont), who sees through Charlotte's flights of fancy, and a sickly younger child named Lulu (Julie Glenn), who tolerates Charlotte's mood swings. The clouds in Charlotte’s existence lift when she wanders into a music class and views a video of an angelic piano prodigy named Clara Bauman (Clothilde

Baudon). Charlotte later discovers that Clara has rented a summer home in

Charlotte's neck of the woods. Hoping to meet her idol, Charlotte horns in on the delivery of a piano stool by local handyman, Jean (Jean-Philippe Ecoffey). The gracious Clara befriends Charlotte, leading the high-strung teenager to read too much into Clara’s hospitality — Charlotte gets it into her

head that Clara wants her to join her upcoming concert tour as her manager! Suddenly, Charlotte starts treating Lulu with scorn and begins acting high-handedly with Leonie. Never the most self-aware individual, Charlotte is also clueless about Jean's sexual interest in her. The day of Clara's recital arrives and Lulu’s unexpected health crisis is the first snag in Charlotte's getaway scheme. What will the impressionable Charlotte do if her fantasy of leaving town doesn’t come true? Heart-breaking and droll, this beautifully observed psychological study captures the confusion and unrest of adolescence. Gainsbourg, the daughter of French musician Serge Gainsbourg and English actress Jane Birkin, gives a remarkable performance as a teenaged warrior as fiercely driven as Joan of Arc; instead of winning a war, Charlotte wants to win a friend who will transform her life.

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