Oddball coming-of-ager centers on a French teenager with a hyperactive imagination.

Oddball coming-of-ager “Sister Welsh’s Nights” centers on a French teenager with a hyperactive imagination who exhibits inappropriate behavior, contrasting her unhappy home and school life with her romance novel-inspired fantasies. Although delivering the reassuring message that it’s OK to be different, this second feature from Gallic helmer Jean-Claude Janer (“Superlove”) fails to reconcile the dueling tones of the self-involved heroine’s baroque fantasy world and her humdrum daily life, dwelling too much inside her head to be broadly appealing to the targeted adolescent market.

Insecure 16-year-old Emma (an intense Louise Blachere, “Water Lilies”) feels fat and ugly. Her slim, beautiful mother (Anne Brochet) hasn’t been attentive since Emma’s father left the family. To compensate, Emma conjures 19th-century English nun Sister Welsh (also Brochet), who leaves her convent for the love of a gallant seafarer. She also imagines her mother an evil Amazon queen, mistreating her health-club acolytes. Further fantasies ensue when Emma falls for Fabrice (Laurent Delbecque), the boyfriend of schoolmate Marion (Davia Martelli). The deliberately cheesy special effects in the fantasy sequences amuse briefly, as do the adults’ broad performances therein. Creative low-rent production design reps the standout craft credit.

Sister Welsh's Nights

France

Production

An Arturo Mio production, in co-production with Maia Cinema with the support of CNC, TPS Star, Cofinova, Procirep. (International sales: FilmSharks, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Arturo Mio, Caroline Roussel, Stephanie Roussel. Directed by Jean-Claude Janer. Screenplay, Janer, Agnes de Sacy, Helene Angel.

Crew

Camera (color), Fabien Lamotte; editor, Franck Nakache; set designer, Stephane Levy. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation 14plus), Feb. 17, 2010. French, English dialogue. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Anne Brochet, Louise Blachere, Laurent Delbecque, Davia Martelli, Lily Bloom, Emilie Gavois-Khan, Francois Negret.

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