The problems facing a well-developed and very attractive 16-year-old with an independent outlook on the world are explored in “A Big Girl Like You,” which centers on a delightfully natural performance by Mercedes Cecchetto in the leading role. Though this catalogue of teenage problems is given freshness by writer-director Christophe Blanc’s sensitive direction, the basic themes have probably been explored so many times before that distribution outside Francophone countries will be limited, though there are opportunities for TV slotting in some territories.
Sabine (Cecchetto) attends a live-in catering school in a provincial town near the home of her parents. She enjoys the company of her girlfriends, but she’s a natural rebel who resents the discipline the school attempts to exert on the students. Above all, she craves freedom and a life in Paris working as a model or a photographer.
Her other interest appears to be sex (“It’s the only real thing, after all,” she says), and she’s fairly indiscriminate about where she finds it. She’s always getting into trouble for being cheeky to adults, and is eventually expelled from the school after a very rowdy latenight party.
Her father (Richard Morgieve), exasperated almost beyond endurance, finally allows his rebellious daughter to leave for Paris, where Sabine quickly looks up an old friend, Valerie (Laura Locatelli), whose parents run a jewelry store. The two like-minded teenagers begin to enjoy the Paris nightlife, hanging out in clubs and discos, while Sabine half-heartedly attempts to find work. However, after getting a lucrative offer to appear in porno films, she begins to realize that her good looks and body may become her meal-ticket.
Writer-director Christophe Blanc unfolds this sad little story in a series of brief scenes, often cutting away from a sequence before the expected resolution. As a result, the film’s a bit cryptic at times, but it succeeds thanks to Cecchetto’s luminous presence as the resourceful girl heading for difficult decision if she’s to survive in an exploitative world. At fade-out, it appears she may have learned some bitter lessons.
Unselfconscious in her occasional nude scenes, Cecchetto gives an assured performance as the optimistic, but sometimes misguided heroine, and the supporting cast, especially Laura Locatelli as her fun-loving friend, are also fine. Pic has the grainy look of a DV-to-film transfer, but otherwise is technically solid.