Radical Empathy: The Films of Agnès Varda

Kung-fu Master!

Le petit amour

Agnès VardaFrance80 minutes198814AColourFrench English

Apr 1
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Originally conceived as one of the vignettes for Jane B. par Agnès V., this more plainly fictional follow-up to Varda and Jane Birkin's fantastical docudrama features Birkin as Mary-Jane, a fortysomething divorcee navigating her powerful attraction to her teenage daughter's 14-year-old friend Julien (who is played by Varda's son Mathieu Demy, while Birkin's real-life daughters Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon play her children onscreen). The duly alarming nature of the film's subject matter is undercut by both the curious English-language title (derived from the name of Julien's favourite videogame), Birkin's own matter-of-fact description of the film ("It's a love story that ends badly"), and most importantly Varda's charitable and unsensational direction, which transforms what could have been a damning morality tale into an exploration of a woman's loneliness, anxiety about aging, and crisis of identity.