Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weekend Two: Fiction

Youth, Me and You, They'll Come Back
Not only are the next set of films in my weekend wrap all fiction, but they are all coming-of-age films. Unusually for coming of age stories, though, only one (Youth) had sex as its major theme (and even then it has to share the stage with mortality).

Youth, directed by Justine Malle (daughter to director Louis Malle), hit the closest to home. The story centers on Juliette (a stand-in for the director) who spends most of her time attending college in Paris and living with her mother while her father's health deteriorates at his country estate, with a stepmother attending him.

Juliette's reaction to her father's decline is denial. She talks to her father as if everything were fine, suggesting the travel to India together. Meanwhile, she's trying to define herself as a sexual person: after being rebuffed by a guy in her class for her virginity, she does what she can to eliminate that as a barrier, picking up guys in bars. Malle tries to keep this threads tied together, as they clearly are for her personally, but they are really two separate stories (though that's clearly part of the point, too).

They'll Come Back, from Brazil, also features a female protagonist wandering out into the world. But this one is only 12 years old. Left on the side of the road by her family, she travels through a variety of episodes in socioeconomic classes she's not used to. The social awakening this inspires in her is, to my tastes, a little too easy: being among the service class, she realizes for the first time that the servants her family employs have their own lives. But the director referred to his film as a "fable", so like Youth, it's likely unfair of me to fault it for this directness.

The last of these is the most traditional: Bernardo Bertolucci's newest film, Me and You, features a 14-year-old male lead who decides he'd rather not go on the school field trip so instead hides out for a week in the storage closet in the basement of his mother's apartment building. The awakening here is provided by his junkie half sister, who he helps through her DTs and thus becomes a better personal. Forgettable, though I did appreciate the double shot of Bowie's 'Space Oddity' at the end, once with totally different Italian lyrics.

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