Before you ask, a 'chignon' is a woman's hair-bun, and alluring Olga (Rollin) works in a bookshop. Teenager Julien (first-timer Benhamdine) is so smitten, he buys a volume of obscure poetry just to talk to her. But where next for his seduction plans? At least it gives him something else to think about, since all is not well at home just outside Chartres. Ignoring offers from music school, this once promising pianist finds himself unable to touch a keyboard; his troubled dad (Riaboukine, an avuncular teddy-bear of a man) has stalled during the writing of his latest children's book; and his sister (Loiret Caille), usually a real rock, is preoccupied with her love life (or lack of it). There's good reason why the household should be in such a funk, but among the many joys of 26-year-old writer/director Bonnell's remarkable debut is the deft, unpredictable and impressively mature way in which he patiently reveals the full extent of the family's plight. A sense of accomplished naturalness prevails, thanks to unaffected performances (particularly good are Benhamdine's listless yet sympathetic protagonist, and Boutefeu as the neurotic friend with unending man trouble), and the camera's intimate ease with the everyday travails. There are definite shades of Rohmer, and even a sprinkling of delightful clips from Chaplin's The Circus, in this considered, compassionate, utterly disarming record of life's learning curve. Just lovely.
Cast and crew
Hubert Benhamdine Nathalie Boutefeu Florence Loiret-Caille Serge Riaboukine Marc Citti Antoine Goldet Valérie Stroh Clotilde Hesme Delphine Rollin