After the success of The Mother and the Whore, French director Jean Eustache was finally able to make Mes petites amoureuses, an equally personal but vastly different film -- a portrait of his childhood in the south of France in which every footstep, every gesture, and every visual detail feels as though it's been drawn directly from the filmmaker's memory.
Young Martin Loeb plays Daniel, Eustache's adolescent alter ego, and he figures in every scene of this magnificent movie, which takes a hard look at adolescence and budding adulthood, at the realities of love and work. Beautifully photographed by the great Nestor Almendros, Mes petites amoureuses (the title is taken from the French poet Arthur Rimbaud) reaches its emotional climax during an extended scene in which Daniel gets his first kiss in a movie theater showing Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. With Fassbinder regular Ingrid Caven as Daniel's mother and, in a small role, director Maurice Pialat.
A study of minor events in the adolescence of a boy growing up in small towns. Daniel lives with his grandmother and, after one year of high school, has to go to live with his mother in the south of France. She is a seamstress living in a tiny apartment with her lover Jose, a Spanish farm worker. Daniel would like to continue school, but his mother cannot afford it, so she sends him to work as an apprentice in a moped repair shop. Daniel wiles away his time in the shop, and learns about girls from the other boys in town. When he returns to visit his grandmother next year, it is obvious that he has grown up faster than his old friends.
This film reveals the thoughts and observations of a good-natured young man as he lives through situations which would crush someone less accepting. The boy is being brought up in the country by his grandmother, and Daniel (Martin Loeb) is seen showing off amiably for his friends. Soon his long-absent mother (Ingrid Caven) takes him back into her life, now that she has a steady new man, and sends him to be apprenticed with a bicycle repairman instead of having him continue with school. Daniel accepts this, though he would rather go to school. Here, too, his easygoing manner wins him friends and it appears that all will work out well. — Clarke Fountain
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