by / May 11th, 2011 /

Love Like Poison

Review by on May 11th, 2011

 3/5 Rating

Director: Katel Quillévéré.
Starring: Clara Augarde, Youen Leboulanger-Gorvil, Lio, Michel Galabru
Cert: 16
Duration: 85 mins

This sweet and sensual coming of age drama takes place in a small and religious town in France. On her return from boarding school, 14-year-old Anna (Clara Augarde) finds her home life in a shambles. Her father has left her mother for another woman and her grandfather lies on his deathbed. All this dramatic tension coincides with her sexual awakening and she’s intrigued by the attention of local boy Pierre, his obsession with her provides an escape from all her woes. It’s a turbulent time for Anna with all this taking place in the lead up to her communion and the central theme is one of the battle between the spirit and the flesh.

It’s hard for Anna to know where to turn when it seems all the adults in her life are falling apart at the seams. Both Anna’s father and grandfather have turned their backs on the church while her mother looks to her strong Catholic faith to get her through. In a parallel to Anna’s blossoming youth her mother struggles with the fear of the loss of her looks and so directs her affection towards her long time friend and priest Father Francois. Christ, even the pious Francois finds the balance hard and her subtle but lusty advances set him into a tailspin.

On paper there seems to be a great deal happening but the film only loosely explores the themes and the overall result is a little tepid. It floats along without committing to anything in particular and never ultimately reaches a much needed climax. Anna seems to be coping fairly well in this snapshot of a turbulent and transitional period in her life which as a result doesn’t produce enough gripping drama and could have been helped along with a bit more reaction, even the odd teenage strop.

Katell Quillévéré’s is part of an emerging scene of French female directors and her feature debut does show some promise and newcomer Clara plays the role perfectly in a mature and understated way. In its defence it’s also very nice to look at with the Breton scenery beautifully captured, providing ample space for Anna and Pierre to set off on his moped and conduct their gentle exploring in lush green forests and fields on hazy summer days. Not a freezing park bench or can of Dutch Gold in sight. If your gonna come of age this is the place you want to do it.