(Release Info London schedule; March 7th, 2021, Curzon Home Cinema)
(Previews 7 March - 9 March as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2021)
Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) is 16. She's bored with people of her age. Every day on her way to high school, she passes a theater. There, she meets Raphaël Frei (Arnaud Valois), an older man, and becomes obsessed with him. Despite their age difference, they find in each other an answer to their ennui and fall in love. But Suzanne is afraid she’s missing out on life; that life of a 16-year-old, which she had struggled so much to enjoy in the same way as her peers.
At the beginning of the movie Suzanne certainly does not know her desires or what she wants. She's naive because she's young but she's never afraid of saying what she wants, or to be who she's with him. She's not a seductress, she's seductive without knowing it. She achieves her ends because he starts to become a sort of obsession for her. She fantasizes about him and she's so intrigued by him that meeting him and knowing him becomes a need. Suzanne seems out of step with her friends and people of her age. She gets bored with people her age, and finds something in Raphaël that she can’t find elsewhere. She's burning with envy and desire but she's still a child and not yet ready to live such an adult life. Raphaël’s life is very repetitive; the same props, the same troupe, the same play, the same place. The arrival of Suzanne and their love story is a kind of new breath given to this place. It's the most common place in the world for him, and the most intriguing in the world for her. So the theater is to a symbol of excitement and desire but at the same time a symbol of weariness. Through the character of Raphael, the film approaches difficulties linked to the acting career; the weariness of rehearsals, the loss of meaning in the face of a meticulous director. At 16, it's the daily life of our age that bores us, that's to say high school. Adults, this is different, it's our job. But a profession, and especially that of an actor, is something that we choose. The film likes the difficulty the character has in continuing to do what he has chosen to do, and what he's supposed to be passionate about. So it's also a way of emphasizing the feeling of boredom and emptiness in Raphaël’s life. This is her meeting with Raphaël that makes her grow up and realize that she's burning with envy and desire.
On the other hand, she knows what she does not want, what does not correspond to her; this adolescent life to which she feels a complete stranger. The characters are drawn together around the 'Theatre of L’Atelier', both a place of weariness for Raphael and a place for expression of desire and the emerging intimacy between the couple. There's a gentleness and courtesy between Suzanne and Raphael as they become more familiar, for example the kisses on the neck rather than the lips. The modesty in their relationship is obvious because we've always think that modesty is a sign of respect, and Suzanne and Raphael are respecting each other a lot. Talk about the universal topic of adolescence and the romantic encounter, it's necessary that everyone, from all eras combined, be able to identify with this story. This is why there's no era marker in the film. No phones, no computers. In the movie, this is their language, they kiss on the neck or on the hand, they dance. They've their own sensuality, their own way of living their love story. The film likes the idea that they don’t rush each other, that they pay attention to each other. The most beautiful and sincere human relationships are those that are unfamiliar. We know that when we're moved by someone, we don’t dare reveal everything, and at the same time we feel more ourself than with anyone else. This is exactly the same with Suzanne and Raphaël, the two characters of the movie. They're moved by each other and they treat their relationship really preciously, as if it's fragile because it's rare. Furthermore it's important to show a certain form of courtesy and modesty in the movie because we live in a time where everyone allows themselves to be familiar with everybody.
The character of Suzanne’s father (Frédéric Pierrot) Is really important, because it's the only male figure she has, so he's her way to learn a little more about what a man would like or want. He's the only point of comparison she has, and we've to understand that she asks him questions because they've a relationship of trust even if they've trouble showing that they understand each other. Between them, there's a lot of modesty, tenderness. More than being a mentor to her, he's just a reassuring figure who looks at her with a lot of respect because he never wants to know too much about his daughter. He just takes what she gives to him, without even understanding sometimes. What's interested with Suzanne and Raphaël’s relationship is that they don’t want or desire anything before they desire each other. The question of living an adult life is important in the movie. The thing she's not yet ready to do is to completely abandon the teenage life that she thought she's having such a hard time enduring. This daily adolescent life that she feels foreign, she now feels ready to face it and to live it fully thanks to the meeting she has with him, because it helped her to discover her envy, her desire, what she wants and who she really is. Suzanne, despite her naivety and lack of experience, seems very determined and achieves her ends; she seduces Raphael, and it's she who later puts an end to their story. The fact that she's the one who puts an end to their story is very important, because it's a way to show how this love story allows her to move forward, and it gives her hope, energy and the desire to face her real life and not to be bored by it anymore. She does not ride a scooter when she does not want to, she never forces herself to do something she does not feel, and she has the strength to leave a man she loves if she feels that it will make her move forward with her life.
How does it feel to fall in love? What does it mean to meet someone, to be yourself with someone else? It's the summer before starting high school; about this certain age, where you're not totally a child anymore, but not really an adult yet. Adolescence is a difficult period because you discover new things before really discovering who you're and what you really want. It does not mean that we've to fight or rebel ourselves against our parents or family in general. Relationships at that age are more complex than just rebelling against people with no reasons. It's about two people, a young girl and an older man who are not the same age but who are living exactly the same routine. In a way they're at the same point of their lives. At 16, we sometimes fall in love with an idea more than a person. And we really want to talk about that, about the fact that they find each other, and they fall in love because they're no longer bored when together. The sixteen year-old girl we talking about in the movie is a misfit, she does not really know how to live or behave with people her own age. Being sixteen is also the moment when love stories start to become more important. This is always about legitimacy, which is kind of a vicious circle. Especially today, in the times we live in, the film shows a balanced and respectful relationship between these two. Today with the telephone and social networks, we've the feeling we know people before even meeting them.