Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2022 3:36 pm 
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Ropert's drama of a teen's sufferings from her parents' divorce is a misfire

Axelle Ropert is esteemed by some French film fans for her work with her partner, oddball writer-directer and actor Serge Bozon (La France, Tip Top), Her two first significant features as a director, [The Wolberg Family and Miss and the Doctors are odd but interesting and also beautiful, with good scores and cinematography. I missed her subsequent comedy, La Prunelle de mes yeux. The Rendez-Vous with French Cinema has included her new film, Petite Solange, doubtless on the strength of prior performances.

This one has less plot than the others; it's a family tale to show us the unsurprising fact that a couple breaking up will upset their 13-year-old daughter. This is an airless, oddly 80's-costumed family melodrama with a bad, obtrusive score and without the handsome cinematography of the Bozon in-law of films 1 and 2.

There are still plot threads from 1 and 2, like someone who goes abroad unexpectedly (the older brother Romain (Grégoire Montana-Haroche) of titular protagonist Solange (Jade Springer). And even the disturbed child came earlier. Though this seems like a conventional "instructive" weepy, it's also surreal and has inexplicable moments or beats. Why do the parents and elder sibling tell Solange she was wrong to come back to the house they're selling? Where has she been? Why do they not at all fit their dad's descriptionf of them in his 20th wedding anniversary speech? Actually, Solange always seems sad, even before her patents' rift.

Solange's "acting out" is lame and boring: shoplifting one thing (a big red bra), sitting late at a cafe drinking chocolate and coffee by herself. She is supposed to break down crying reading a Verlaine poem in French class and it's supposed to be a big enough deal to make the teacher call Solange's parents, but we see this, and in the scene, she's barely sniffling. Again, surreal - in a pointless way.

A total misfire, for any but Ropert-Bozon fetishists, as Jay Weissberg writes in his Locarno Variety review, one of the few that sees the same flaws I do.

Petite Solange, 86 mins., debuted at the fest of odd flicks, Locarno, Aug. 21, 2021, showing also at Vienna. It opened in France Feb. 2, 2021 and was screened for this review as part of the UniFrance-FLC Rendez-Vous with French Cinema (Mar. 7, 2022 showing). No Metascore yet but the average so far is 63%. AlloCiné press rating 3.6, AlloCiné audience rating 2.7.

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