Thursday, 17 June 2010

Herve is the main protagonist in The French Kissers (Les beaux gosses, dir Riad Sattouf, 2009), a fabulously funny coming-of-age story. The cast of young people playing school kids in a small French town give excellent performances under the direction of this untried director, who also writes and illustrates comics.

Herve is a bit of a geek, as are his friends. They try to come to terms with their sexualities while at the same time coping with homework, exams, bullies, and parents. But sex is the major preoccupation, and it's where the biggest laughs come from.

On the bus, Herve finds himself often sitting next to a girl, Aurore, who hangs with the cool crowd. Unable to grasp the import of these advances, he stumbles along until, one day, she takes matters in hand and kisses him. And while Herve tries to convince his best friend, Camel, that she totally gives out they continue to kiss, and kiss, and kiss.

She teaches him things, and he treats her with respect and affection - until he sees her dirty feet! When he starts kissing another girl, she retaliates. When he tells her he loves her, she asks that they just be friends.

Herve's mother, meanwhile, tries to maintain her dignity though divorced. At a party one night, she meets a guy. But at least she stops ribbing Herve about his onanism, which at times is conducted in tandem with Camel.

It's tough being young, but there are compensations. The French Kissers illustrates the many pitfalls and victories that strew the path of the young but it mainly tries to show how amusing it all is. This is a fresh-faced film by a new director using an unfamiliar cast. And it's well worth the time spent watching it.

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