×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

17 Girls

Ballooning bellies are all the rage at a provincial French high school in "17 Girls," the confident debut of sisters Delphine and Muriel Coulin.

With:
With: Louise Grinberg, Juliette Darche, Roxanne Duran, Esther Garrel, Yara Pilartz, Solene Rigot, Noemie Lvovsky, Florence Thomassin, Carlo Brandt, Frederic Noaille, Arthur Verret.

Ballooning bellies are all the rage at a provincial French high school in “17 Girls,” the confident debut of sisters Delphine and Muriel Coulin. Based on a true story that happened in the U.S., “Girls” relates how the accidental pregnancy of an attractive teen leads to an epidemic of knocked-up peers. Though the protags’ hormones — and, some parents might argue, wits — might be out of whack, the writer-helmers impressively keep the pic’s tone gently oscillating between light comedy and drama. Locally, teens could give this cult status, while offshore, the debate-ready topic and model-pretty cast will stimulate sales.

Camille (Louise Grinberg) is a 17-year-old stunner who, during a break from a physical education class in the dunes, tells four of her girlfriends she’s pregnant. When a hanger-on, Florence (Roxanne Duran), announces she’s pregnant too, she’s suddenly accepted as part of Camille’s in-crowd. The quintet’s subsequent pregnancy pact rapidly spreads to the entire class as it becomes clear that a baby bump is the accessory of the season.

The girls’ rash actions sit less well with their parents and the adults in charge at school. Camille’s single mom (Florence Thomassin) is angry, while the school nurse (Noemie Lvovsky) is puzzled. Are the teens’ actions a collective feminist statement or reckless behavior inspired by the adolescent need to belong and a naive sense of optimism about the future?

The Coulins, who also wrote the screenplay, do not take sides, simply observing the teens as they deal with and react to what is happening around and inside them. The narrative neatly balances slightly surreal events with a realistic setting, a small bunch of protags within a much larger group, and moments of drama (one of the girls is thrown out by her parents and ends up staying in a dingy beachside trailer) with moments of laughter and a strong sense of sisterhood.

Impressively, the rookie scribe-helmers’ sense of equilibrium is unerring and also surprisingly subtle. Some of the humorous scenes, such as when the gang goes to buy pregnancy tests in bulk, are straightforwardly funny, but some of the comedy is more subversive, with auds at times laughing at the schoolgirls, and their awkward behavior and naive thinking, rather than with them.

These subtle shifts back and forth are possible because the cast plays everything straight. In the lead, Grinberg (“The Class”) is luminous, though like her peers, she’s distractingly pretty. This might help explain why their male classmates don’t have any problems lining up as disposable sperm donors, though the complete absence of any sense of responsibility from all the 17 fathers seems rather unlikely.

Versatile d.p. Jean-Louis Vialard (“Tropical Malady,” “Inside Paris”) lensed “Girls” on one of the Canon hybrid photo/film cameras, an increasingly common tool that’s both agile and light. Cinematography looks aces, with crisp colors and beautiful use of the shallow depth of field typical of the equipment. Lighting is abundant, bouncing of the walls of the girls’ bedrooms, where virginal whites and blood reds dominate. The rest of this French indie’s assembly is equally pro.

17 Girls

France

Production: An Archipel 35 production, in association with Arte France Cinema, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema, Arte France. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Denis Freyd. Directed, written by Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Jean-Louis Vialard; editor, Guy Lecorne; production designer, Benoit Pfauwadel; costume designer, Dorothee Guiraud; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS), Jean-Pierre Laforce, line producer, Andre Bouvard; assistant director, Guillaume Huin; casting, Alexandre Nazarian, Agathe Hassenforder. Reviewed at Club Marbeuf, Paris, April 29, 2011. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics' Week.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Louise Grinberg, Juliette Darche, Roxanne Duran, Esther Garrel, Yara Pilartz, Solene Rigot, Noemie Lvovsky, Florence Thomassin, Carlo Brandt, Frederic Noaille, Arthur Verret.

More Film

  • Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and Bella (Amber)

    China's Bona Film Boards Brad Pitt's 'Ad Astra,' 'A Dog's Way Home' (EXCLUSIVE)

    China’s Bona Film Group is co-financing Brad Pitt space adventure “Ad Astra,” one of several films in a strong slate of international movies the company plans to release in the Middle Kingdom over the next year. Bona has also acquired Roland Emmerich’s war spectacular “Midway” and is investing in “A Dog’s Way Home,” the sequel [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    Film News Roundup: 'Aquaman' Sets Pre-Sales Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Aquaman” sets a pre-sales record, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hits a milestone, and SAG-AFTRA promotes four executives.  PRE-SALES RECORD “Aquaman” has set a pre-sales record for Atom Tickets, topping “Deadpool 2,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Black Panther.” More Reviews Film Review: 'The Quake' Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule' “Clearly, ‘Aquaman’ [...]

  • 'Liga' Kicks Off At Ventana Sur's

    Ventana Sur: 'La Liga' Kicks Off at Buenos Aires' Animation!

    Spain’s Quirino Awards, Argentina’s Animation! and Mexico’s Pixelatl Festival, three key events in Ibero-American animation, will join forces to create La Liga (The League), as announced Wednesday at an Animation! round table hosted by the Quirino Awards, titled “Iberoamerican Alliance Models.” Speakers included Quirino Awards promoter José Luis Farias, Mexico’s Pixelatl director José Iñesta, Gonzalo [...]

  • The Quake Review

    Film Review: 'The Quake'

    Roar Uthaug’s 2015 “The Wave” revived the pleasures of the 1970s disaster-movie cycle in a form that seemed purer than the never-quite-dead genre’s recent Stateside incarnations — most of which seem to involve Dwayne Johnson in a generic pileup of CGI perils. “The Wave” wasn’t high art, but it was entertainment that delivered some standard [...]

  • The Mule trailer

    Film Review: Clint Eastwood in 'The Mule'

    From Dirty Harry to … dirty grandpa, Clint Eastwood certainly has a type of character that he plays best, and “The Mule” finds him squarely in his comfort zone, appearing as a surly old horticulturalist who, at age 90, has become perhaps the most reliable drug runner for the Sinaloa cartel, evading detection for nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content