Friday, June 01, 2012

17 Filles (17 Girls)

Coulin sisters debut movie has great visuals and is full of light but the story it tells I'm sure that generates quite different reactions; reactions that will be propelled by individuals beliefs and culture as one of society most conflicting issues is teen pregnancy and this film story is inspired by the 2008 American incident where 18 girls from the same high school got pregnant.

In my opinion what this film shows and the real-life incident have only one thing in common, a collective teenagers pregnancy and nothing else. Had to comment on all of the above as after reading reviews in English I got impressed on how much you can project your culture when writing about movie story, just browse the net and be prepared to read strong negative comments about the story and consequently the movie. I'm going to break my golden rule and will share what I saw in movie which probably will have spoilers; so if you don't like spoilers please stop reading.

On the surface movie tells about one girl that gets pregnant, influences her close circle of friends to also become pregnant and the effect extends to other school mates to end up having 17 pregnant girls. This story is not pleasant to watch as girls are brilliant and beautiful, but no matter how you analyze their behavior -getting pregnant- there is no positive outcome.

But this story, also written Delphine and Muriel Coulin, explores their motives -above the obvious peer pressure- and is in this exploration where you get the unsettling message that speaks about young girls dreaming about their own world far away from the adults world. Coulin sisters decided to transport the American story to a small town near the sea in the orient of France where population are mostly middle-to-lower class who in all of Europe are the ones that have been hit the most by recession. In these girls dreams, their future is not bright as they probably will have it even harder that the already hard life their parents -the adults- have; so they recur to dream a fantasy where each will have their child but after all together will help each other. To me dream was like life in a commune. Maybe if they were far from adults their lives could be better. When the fantasy is over , detonated by one of the girls having an accident, the others have their children and they had to face reality. Film ends.

This is the second movie I watch recently that touches the unsettling future that youth has. Not easy to digest and less easy to accept; but our world moves in circles and this dark perspective was also present in the past, so let's hope that eventually there will be a solution and the circle will open again.

Returning to movie, this is what directors' say related to their exploration.

"Nos filles ont pris conscience que la vie des adultes, dans leur petite ville, n’est pas très enviable, mais elles ne voient pas ce qui pourrait leur donner une existence trépidante. (...) Elles ont des rêves communs, et hors du commun : elles construisent une utopie. Ces filles idéalistes, que rien n’arrête, décident de se lancer dans une grande aventure, envers et contre tout."

Story no matter if you only see the surface or both is not easy to watch, but the Coulins sisters dressed the movie with beautiful actresses, some well-known and most non-actors, good performances, nice almost infantile (against teen) situations, some beautiful sights full of light and opted to tell story without emotions, as even when there was drama -like the accident or the angry father- you are a spectator, you are detached, you are not inside the story and you will never be. To me the style is remarkable and quite effective for telling disturbing stories.

This is another very French brainy movie that definitively is not for all audiences but for those that do not mind to think while or after watching a movie, as otherwise you'll only see a not pleasant to watch story. Film was screened at the 2011 Cannes fest in the Semaine de la Critique parallel section and collected some honors in French fests.

While watching there was one sentence in my mind: beautiful smart stupid girls. Yes I reacted to the evident story and was not until movie was almost over when I got what this movie was all about. I enjoyed the experience and yes, I do recommend watching film with a very open mind.


Watch trailer @MOC

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