A 15-year-old French girl (Sandrine Bonnaire, extraordinary) finds refuge from her troubled family in a series of casual sexual encounters. The subject invites a certain social-worker condescension (it's the stuff of TV movies), yet Maurice Pialat's mise-en-scene allows us no comforting distance from the characters. His ragged long takes plunge us straight into the action and hold us there, as if we, too, were combatants in this family war. His unorthodox dramatic construction rejects the symmetry of classical plotting, and the narrative has a quirky, self-propelling quality that allows for some astonishing things to happen. Pialat himself plays the father, whose disappearance sets the action in motion and whose reappearance makes it explode. In French with subtitles.
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