“Hair Under the Roses” is a brash, brazen and absolutely convincing look at the vicissitudes of adolescent curiosity about sex. Written and helmed by Agnes Obadia and Jean-Julien Chervier, pic is a spot-on portrait of what it feels like to be 15, told from his ‘n’ hers points of view. Splendidly melding guffaws with poignancy, pic depicts its protagonists with nonstop verve: Result is peppy, original and — by many countries’ standards — a bit on the daring side. Fests would be crazy to let this one slip by.
A few weeks shy of her 15th birthday, cute and insolent live wire Roudoudou (Julie Durand) has yet to start menstruating but is positively brimming with questions about the facts of life. These include some risque vocabulary gleaned from listening in on her older brother having phone sex with Lily, her more precocious, sexually self-assured girlfriend.
Roudoudou is supposed to be seeing a shrink. However, she sends Lily in her place so she can hang out in the waiting room with a fellow patient, 15-year-old Romain (Alexis Roucout), who is also intrigued and baffled by the realities of sex.
She’s a rambunctious extrovert, he’s a shy misfit. Pic switches from her p.o.v. to his as, together and separately, they investigate puberty. But before the pair decides to explore intercourse together, Roudoudou exerts lots of girlish energy over her crush on a 30-year-old guy, and Romain makes some innovative adjustments to girlie magazines, indulges in mutual masturbation with his buddy Francis, and runs away from home.
Repped in freewheeling animated sequences (with appealingly over-the-top drawings by Sebastien Laudenbach), Roudoudou’s dreams are sexy and venturesome; in one, she sprouts giant breasts while gliding over Paris monuments.
Energetic lensing and punchy editing capture a rare range of wacky whims and spontaneous behavior, much of it filtered through Roudoudou’s video camera. If ever a hormone-driven youngster thought of it, it’s here. Some viewers may be put off by a family bathroom scene full of unfettered nudity; but the giddy movie is 100% guilt free and ultimately wholesome in its explorations.
Non-pro kids are astonishingly natural.