In 1985, Charlotte Gainsbourg (Lemming, The Science of Sleep) was just thirteen and cute as a button. L’Effrontée is only her third movie, and she owns it. The French vacation coming-of-age tale is a venerable subgenre (we’re fans of Girls Can’t Swim and Pauline at the Beach but not Fat Girl)–and this is a very fine addition. Charlotte plays the motherless daughter of a handyman who can’t afford to go out of town. Stranded, she enters the world of a perfect piano prodigy (Clothilde Baudon) while a creepy sailor twice her age (Jean-Philippe Écoffey) tries to buy her beer and her sickly friend Lulu (Julie Glenn) gets sicker. Like in many French films (Safe Conduct always comes to mind), drama is implied without having to be carried to some over-the-top climax. L’Effrontee is a lovely evocation of how much it can stink to be a teenager.
L’effrontée. Claude Miller, 1985. ****
After the jump, Europop madness, Serge Gainsbourg vs. Whitney Houston, and Jane Birkin singing Di Doo Dah.
I can’t say whether the producers of L’Effrontée only had cash for the rights to one obnoxious Europop hit, or if they wanted to underscore the ubiquity of “Sara perche ti amo” by playing it a half dozen times throughout the movie–either way, here it is again. Thanks for the tacky memories.
And while we’re on the subject of Charlotte Gainsbourg, here’s a video of her, ten years older than in L’Effrontée, singing with mom Jane Birkin. It’s very silly, and I like it better than her current songs, Air be damned.
And if you’re really into Charlotte, I have a whole playlist of Gainsbourg videos, including some of the icky/scandalous stuff she did with her father, “Lemon Incest” and “Charlotte Forever.” Of course, Serge Gainsbourg is a whole ‘nother can of worms, so we’ll stop here with a classic Whitney Houston moment: