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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
C'est La Vie
Directed by Diane Kurys
MGM Home Entertainment 1990 DVD/VHS Feature Film
This is the third semi-autobiographical film by the French writer and director Diane Kurys; the others are Peppermint Soda (1977) and Entre Nous (1983). This engaging tale revolves around the breakup of a family unit during the summer of 1958 as seen through the eyes of a 13-year-ld girl.
Frederique (Julie Bataille) and her eight-year-old sister Sophie (Candice Lefranc) leave their home in Lyon with their governess for a holiday at a coastal resort. Although they miss their mother, they have the company of their cousins for summer pleasures such as swimming, smoking, and breaking into an exclusive club. Frederique records her experiences in a diary, savors her first kiss, and enjoys the prank of dropping laxatives into their landlord's goldfish pond. When her mother Lena (Nathalie Baye) finally arrives, Frederique is shocked to see her ride off one evening with a strange man on a motorcycle. She is even more stunned when her father Michel (Richard Berry) arrives and batters her mother in a brutal fit of jealousy and anger.
Writer and director Diane Kurys is right on target with her engaging portrait of Frederique's childhood summer with its bittersweet mixture of experiences, the mystery of sexual adventure contrasted to the all-too-real pain of witnessing the irrevocable separation of her parents. Julie Bataille is appealing as the vulnerable Frederique. Nathalie Baye comes across well as her mother, who is determined to make a new life for herself. And Jean-Pierre Bacri puts in a winning performance as Frederique's funny uncle who at the end of the holiday graciously offers her a shoulder to cry upon whenever she needs it.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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