#66- Murmur of the Heart

Quick recap: Laurent is a 15 year old boy who desperately wants to lose his virginity(don’t they all?).IMDb describes this movie as a ‘jolly coming of age story’, which I totally agree with, except for the incest.

Fun (?) fact: Director Louis Malle says the movie is mostly autobiographical, except for the sexual relations with his mother. What a relief!

My thoughts: So, Murmur of the Heart is a French film.  I feel like it’s important to point this out because I just don’t believe something like this would’ve ever been ok to American audiences. When looking at it from my perspective as an American girl, every scene seemed outrageous- from the young boys smoking, to the priest coming on to Laurent, and of course, the incest. But maybe if I had been French, only the last scene would’ve been shocking. I recognize that a different culture is at play here so there is no point in judging that, but it’s also impossible to ignore my natural bias.

For starters, I never really warmed up to the character of Laurent. Once again, it might be my bias, but I could never identify with him. Through the entirety of the film, I felt like I was watching something that wasn’t meant for me. As a girl, I have my own share of stories of what it was like in high school as I matured and the awkwardness of it all. And how intimidating it was when I got to college and it felt like all of the guys had so much more experience than I did. But then while watching this movie I realized that a boy going through puberty was no walk in the park, either. For Laurent, it was even more rough having two older brothers constantly pushing him to lose his virginity. It was one of those moments where I felt like I was going ‘behind the scenes’ and entering into a world I knew nothing about.

Everyone seemed to have a relaxed attitude about sex in the film, which once again, seemed shocking to me but might be the norm elsewhere. The second half of the movie takes place in a sanitarium where Laurent recovers from a heart murmur (get it?!? He had a legit medical condition but it was also his symbolic heart! So. Deep). Although he had suspected it, he learns that his mother is having an affair and he wishes her good luck in the endeavor. When she leaves for a couple of days to spend time with her lover, Laurent turns even less likable. There is one girl that he has set his sights on but when she rejects him he calls her a lesbian and becomes upset. Her parents witness the whole thing and even though they seemed offended they didn’t even have him thrown out. Then in a later scene, during Bastille Day, Laurent is back to talking to the girl. He continues to say offensive things and tries to kiss her, but she never really gets too angry about the whole thing. It was as if everyone had the attitude of ‘boys will be boys’.

And finally, we come to the scene with Laurent and his mother. I think the less said about it the better, although I will mention how grateful I was that the entire encounter was only implied and nothing was shown. After it is over, Laurent’s mother tells him that she will think of the time fondly, but that it will never happen again. Laurent seems satisfied by this and I guess the whole thing gave him courage because he ends up sneaking out and having sex with some girl. When he comes back into the room the next morning, he sees his entire family waiting on him. His father talks sternly to him at first but then everyone bursts out laughing, and the movie (thankfully) ends.

Final review: 2/5. On a positive note, I’ve been learning French and was quite pleased to recognize about 10 different words during the movie.

Up next: Kiss me Deadly

 

#57- Amelie

Quick recap: Amélie is a girl with a big imagination. Growing up with a neurotic mother and ‘iceberg’ father, Amélie had only herself for comfort. She is now an adult and continues to see things in a different light than everyone else. After returning a man’s treasure from when he was a boy, Amélie decides to start living her life helping others. Oh, and she falls in love because this is a French film after all, so it’s kind of expected.

This movie was SO French

This movie was SO French

Fun (?) Fact:  Amélie was a direct inspiration for the short lived tv show Pushing Daisies. It’s an underrated masterpiece, if you ask me.

I also sort of have a thing for Ned. And Kristin Chenoweth.

I also sort of have a thing for Ned. And Kristin Chenoweth.

My thoughts: Oh, boy. My mind is all over the place for this review. Even now, over 24 hours after watching Amélie, I still don’t really know how I feel about it. On one hand, the movie has elements I normally love: it’s quirky, it’s gorgeous, the characters are interesting and it’s French which always adds a touch of class to anything. On the other hand, it’s very quirky. And French.

I suppose I should begin with Amélie herself. I was immediately drawn into the film from just the opening sequence, which pictured a young girl playing with ordinary objects and having a wonderful time. The back story for Amélie’s childhood did a great job in setting the tone for the rest of the film and quickly gave all the information needed to understand the main character. Amélie as an adult is just as adorable as when she was a child. She still retains a child-like quality to her, especially when it comes to seeing the good in other people. After finding an old treasure box that had been left behind by a young boy decades ago, Amélie decides to track him down and give him some happiness. It was a very sweet moment, as well as much of the first half of the movie. At some point, the quirky things Amélie does seem to become tedious and not so adorable.

I think the whole plot of Amélie falling in love with a just as quirky guy is what made me begin to question how I really felt. It completely makes sense for Amélie to refuse to meet Nino, seeing as how she was so rarely interacted with during her childhood. With every near interaction, I found myself becoming more impatient and less enchanted with all of the characters. But then, there was the scene in which Amélie imagines what a life with Nino might be like and it was so realistic in terms of how it feels to have an unattainable crush, that I couldn’t help but be drawn in again. The ending, which I won’t give away now, fit perfectly and made me once gain rethink how I felt about the whole thing.

imagining a different outcome

imagining a different outcome

Final review: 3/5. In the end, it isn’t a movie I crave to see again, although watching Amélie made me want to rewatch Pushing Daisies and pick up French for the billionth time.

This is about all I understand these days

This is about all I understand these days

Up next: Fargo