Girls Can't Swim | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Girls Can't Swim 

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Anne-Sophie Birot's psychologically acute first feature (2000), which explores the passionate but foundering friendship between two teenage girls, would have made a swell entry in the excellent mid-90s French TV series All the Boys and Girls in Their Time, for which Andre Techine, Chantal Akerman, and Claire Denis (among other filmmakers) dramatized stories set during the years they were teenagers. Though this film has a contemporary setting, it shares with the aforementioned directors' entries a frankness about teenage sexuality that French filmmakers seem especially comfortable with. Birot's disturbing scenario implies that the fathers of teenage girls complicate their developing sexuality, either through absence or excessive presence. The film begins with the more promiscuous girl (Isild Le Besco) as she spends her summer in a Brittany coastal village, then boldly switches to her troubled best friend back home (Karen Alyx) before bringing the two together for an uneasy reunion. 101 min. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, August 9 through 15.

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