Drop the acronym ACID (Association de Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion, for those of playing along at home) into a conversation about French cinema, and you’ll notice that even the most dedicated Francophiles get that quizzical look one associates with phonograph-loving dogs. This modest collective has helped promote up-and-coming French filmmakers since the early ’90s, and BAM’s look back at the fruits of the organization’s labors, “Salut les jeunes! Young French Cinema,” clearly hopes to correct our ignorance. Those who can’t see all 13 films in the series, however, should proceed directly to Sophie Letourneur’s 2009 raunchy dramedy about twentysomething hipsterettes. If any film could convince people that ACID is the patron saint of tomorrow’s Godards, it’s this one.
The work of that sunglasses-wearing father of ’60s cinema du cool informs this generational chronicle of youth (suggested alt title: Féminin Féminin), even if the young women who hang out at a Left Bank crash pad dubbed “the Ranch” might have stepped out of a Larry Clark portfolio. But for all the partial nudity on display, it’s the filmmaker’s willingness to let these uncouth females un-self-consciously get drunk, piss in the streets and talk like sailors that supplies La Vie’s true emotional nakedness. All the narrative formlessness—ladies get shit-faced, fret over guys, don’t rinse, repeat—and extended scenes of little besides salty conversations might fool viewers into thinking that nothing happens. But as the characters gradually realize that their wild-child idyll can’t last, you see that Letourneur understands the impact of going out on a whimper—and that BAM was wise to kick off their series with a weeklong engagement of such a beautiful bang.
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