Can't Swim (France; 102 min.)
directed by: Anne-Sophie Birot
starring: Isild Les Besco; Karen Alyx; Pascale Bussières; Pascal Elso
"Like the film RAIN,
which I saw earlier this week, France's GIRLS CAN'T SWIM is a coming-of-age
story fraught with tragedy. Gwen and Lise have been spending summers together
in Gwen's coastal hometown. When sudden tragedy prevents Lise from coming
to town, both girls are unhappy. Eventually, Lise does in fact make it to
town, and at first, everyone is happy, despite the gradually revealed cause
of the trip's delay.
"Unlike the gorgeously forboding imagery in RAIN, GIRLS CAN'T SWIM is a bit more straight-forward in its look. It does start off with a fairly interesting device. The first 20 minutes or so focus on Gwen from her last day of school as a freshman in High School. Then we see what Lise has been up to. It's a subtle switch, and keeps the viewer interested.
"GIRLS CAN'T SWIM was a little tiresome because every encounter featured some sort of dramatic confrontation that usually ended up with someone running away. Everyone was very tempremental, blowing up with little provocation at times. The ending of GIRLS grows increasingly more melodramatic as Lise grows more and more frantic in her search for love and attention.
"The performances were enjoyable, especially a favorite of mine, Pascale Bussieres (WHEN NIGHT IS FALLING, THE FIVE SENSES) as Gwen's mother. The film started off promisingly enough, but as the conclusion drew near, got a little out of hand. The truths about adolesence and friendship were telling, but the execution was a bit clumsy." 3 cats