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27. Adolescents (Adolescentes); movie review

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Title : 27. Adolescents (Adolescentes); movie review
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Cert TBA
135 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

Richard Linklater's Boyhood is one of the most original movies of the past decade because the audience sees its cast grow up in front of their eyes.
Linklater developed his film over 12 years, bringing back the cast every 12 months to filter in elements of his narrative.
Sébastien Lifshitz's Adolescents has obvious parallels because it was also shot over time but, remarkably, is a documentary.
Indeed, it also prompted recollections of Michael Apted's superb Up TV series in which he returned to his subjects every seven years.
Adolescents chronicles the lives of two teenagers, Emma and Anaïs, from the ages of 13 to 18. It is so seamless that it is difficult to see when time has moved forward.
It alights upon the best friends when they are in middle school and inseparable despite obvious class differences.
Indeed, they face the same dominating issues - school, parents and boys - not necessarily in that order.
Mrs W and I thought it interesting how little difference there was between the priorities and distractions of young French people and what we had experienced and witnessed in the UK.
They start, as 13-year-old girls do by being overly exercised by small behaviours - be they by a teacher, mum or... yep, a boy again.
And for the first wee while, that appears to be the level of Adolescents, as Anaïs and Emma grapple with what direction they want to take after middle school.
However, the older they become, the more incisive this documentary becomes and the more seismic what happens in France.
Yes, this film takes in the reaction to the horrors at Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan, showing devastating news footage which we had previously been spared in the UK.
Later, it shows a surprisingly negative reaction among the young to the election of Emmanuel Macron.
If this isn't head-turning enough really big stuff happens in Anaïs's life - and I mean jaw-widening stuff.
Sadly, as they progress through their teens, both girls become more at odds with their parents - one because hers don't seem to care about her future and the other because her mother is horrifically pushy.
Part of Lifshitz's genius is in the girls he chose - he had initially wanted to film in a major city but that wouldn't have given the movie the same intimate feel as making it in the small provincial town of Brive.
He was fortunate that they were so compelling and that the essential people in their lives play ball, even when they end up not looking good.
Goodness knows what the parents make of it now.
Inevitably, the Emma and Anais drift apart and develop different friendship circles and we wonder whether they will ever see each other again.
Adolescents is a must-see and is available until February 15 on MyFrenhcFilmFestival which is available on multiple digital platforms.

Reasons to watch: A brilliant documentary about teenage life in France
Reasons to avoid: Maybe a little humdrum for some

Laughs: Two
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 9.5/10

Did you know? 
Almost half of young voters voted for far-right Marine Le Pen in France's presidential run-off. Some 44 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds backed the Front National leader, compared with 56 per cent who voted for centrist Emmanuel Macron.

The final word. Sébastien Lifshitz: "At this key age (12), we abandon childhood but at the same time a certain unconsciousness and innocence of the world persist. This is also the age when people usually just left elementary school to enter middle school and soon after high school. It is also a time when injunctions to define oneself, family, social and sexual injunctions, begin to be felt. Who are you? What do you want What are your talents, your skills? How do you see your future? So many questions which are still open but which instil a state of doubt, dismay and often perdition."

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