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Lol

Jaw-droppingly handsome cast, laugh-out-loud moments aplenty and a finely sketched, more serious undertow should make this third feature by Gallic helmer Lisa Azuelos a big hit in Gaul.

Cast:
With: Sophie Marceau, Christa Theret, Alexandre Astier, Marion Chabassol, Jeremy Kapone, Emile Bertherat, Felix Moati, Louis Sommer, Jade Rose Parker, Jocelyn Quivrin. (French, English dialogue)

Girls wanna have more than just fun in “Lol,” which niftily casts Sophie Marceau (who made her name as the pubescent protag in the ’80s French teen evergreen “Le boum”) as the liberated but uneasy mother of a liberated 14-year-old daughter. Jaw-droppingly handsome cast, laugh-out-loud moments aplenty and a finely sketched, more serious undertow should make this third feature by Gallic helmer Lisa Azuelos a big hit in Gaul. Offshore potential includes both theatrical and remake rights.

Title is not only Internet slang for “laugh out loud” (used even in France), but also the nickname of Paris schoolgirl Lola (Christa Theret). The sprightly teen bobs into her own pic in slow-motion because, as she notes in cheeky voiceover, “in U.S. productions, hot babes always make their entry that way.” Tone is immediately set for a tongue-in-cheek take on female self-perception and relationships, a topic also explored in the helmer’s previous local B.O. hit, “Comme t’y es belle!”

Though “Lol” is divided into sections that follow the school trimesters, the narrative is essentially composed of two triangles. At school, Lola sort of breaks off with Arthur (Felix Moati), and hesitantly moves on to Mael (Jeremy Kapone), Arthur’s best friend. A second triangle involves Lola’s relationship with her divorced parents (Marceau, Alexandre Astier), who are secretly seeing each other again.

Occasionally using parallel editing, Azuelos and editor Stan Collet subtly contrast the two triangles, suggesting relationships are just as messy across the generations. Both teens and adults are skilled at keeping up appearances, though this only leads to a false sense of security on both sides.

The shenanigans of the school kids in supporting roles get some of the biggest laughs, including a French (and decidedly 21st-century) take on the central gag in “American Pie.” Humor is rarely out of character, though two moments in which the youngsters drug the adults who are supposed to be supervising them ring false.

The entire cast is indecently great-looking, but Azuelos’ focus on their emotional rapport is a good antidote to all the prettiness. Acting is strong across the board, and in the eponymous role Theret shows real spunk.

Lenser Nathaniel Aron nicely integrates SMS icons without going overboard. Except for a dip in momentum around the halfway mark, editing and other tech credits are fine. Pic’s upbeat soundtrack includes not only the Stones but also more contempo indie faves such Keane, Blur, Supergrass and French electro band Junesex.

Lol

France

Production: A Pathe Distribution release of a Pathe presentation of a Pathe Renn Prods. production, in association with TF1 Films, M6 Films. (International sales: Pathe Intl., London.) Produced by Romain Le Grand. Executive producer, Eric Hubert. Directed, written by Lisa Azuelos.

Crew: Camera (color), Nathaniel Aron; editor, Stan Collet; production designer, Yvon Fustec; costume designer, Jurgen Doering; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Laurent Poirier; assistant director, Sebastien Deux; casting, Emmanuelle Prevost. Reviewed at Rome Film Festival, Oct. 29, 2008. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Sophie Marceau, Christa Theret, Alexandre Astier, Marion Chabassol, Jeremy Kapone, Emile Bertherat, Felix Moati, Louis Sommer, Jade Rose Parker, Jocelyn Quivrin. (French, English dialogue)

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