In the Picture
The French Kissers
Directed by Riad Sattouf
The French Kissers is a movie that will appeal to teenage French boys who are surging with hormones, obsessed by sex and can’t keep their hands out of their pants. I imagine that will be a fairly limited audience here on the North Coast, and for that matter in most of the world.
Films about adolescence are common fodder for Hollywood, which is able to tap into the lucrative teen market, but this exploration of the sexual coming of age of two dorky French boys will be of little interest to those who are hanging out for the next instalment of American Pie and I don’t think it will be of much interest to the culture boffins around here who are starved of arthouse flicks either.
The story centres around Herve (Vincent LaCoste) and his friend Camel (Anthony Sonigo), who both desperately want to find a girlfriend, and their clumsy attempts to make an impression on the girls at their high school.
Herve lives with his single mum (Noemie Lvovsky) who regularly finds him practising his kissing on the bathroom mirror and hassles him out about masturbating. Their relationship is one of the few interesting things about this film. When Herve does eventually find a girlfriend in Aurore (Alice Tremolieres) and his mum catches them pashing, she has great delight in calling her friends and describing how her little boy is turning into a man (much to Herve’s embarrassment of course).
The opening credits feature pimply faces and lots of tongues exploring mouths and faces and a groovy sounding European pop/rock soundtrack – it tweaked my interest. I was looking forward to seeing something with real people as characters and real situations (as opposed to another epic from Hollywood where some cartoon gladiator has to save the world with the clock already ticking, again). But I soon realised that the opening credits may indeed have been the high point of this film. The kids at school are brutal (as kids are) when somebody is being dumped or rejected. There are fights about pecking orders and social cliques that resonate as real and apparently the actors in the film were predominantly non-professional, but it suffers from the fact that you just don’t really care about the characters.
The French Kissers screens as part of Norpa’s Summer Popcorn series this Sunday, March 7, at the Star Court Theatre at 6pm. Entry is $10.