***** (Five stars)
Under the indifferent rule of his elderly grandparents, French 14-year-old Nicolas (Kolia Litscher) slumbers through adolescence devoid of any evident academic or social prowess. A teacher’s inquiry into his plans for the future is met with unexamined silence. Soon, Nicolas finds prospective inspiration in a romantic seaside postcard that has been bookmarking a discarded copy of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. Armed with a roll of Granddad’s cash and a reckless hitchhiker’s thumb, he begins a curious journey to the Belle-Ile region of Brittany.
Feeling defeated by a snag in his journey, Nicolas encounters and takes off after Charly (the sharp Julie-Marie Parmentier), whose decisive choice to assist him matches with her discipline toward work (on the streets) and domestic ritual. Whether they are fine-tuning the obsessive-compulsive intricacies of Charly's dishwashing routine or exchanging dialogue from Nicolas’s new favorite read, both characters reveal emotional and sexual vulnerability. And unlike adolescents themselves, their charmed relationship eludes severely awkward phases.—Tom Oesau, advertising production manager
[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.]