×
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.

Popular on Variety

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

  • Michael Caine poses for a portrait

    Michael Caine, Lena Headey to Star in Modern-Day Version of 'Oliver Twist'

    Michael Caine, Lena Headey and pop star Rita Ora are to star in “Twist,” a modern-day, gender-bending film interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel “Oliver Twist” for Sky, which will release the film day and date in theaters and on its pay-TV platform. The title role of Oliver is played by Jude Law’s son Raff [...]

  • Lucia Milazzotto

    Rome MIA Director Lucia Milazzotto Talks Linear TV and Theatrical Comeback

    MIA market director Lucia Milazzotto is the main architect of Rome’s new format post-Mipcom, pre-AFM confab launched five years ago to serve as a driver for the Italian industry in the global arena. The MIA acronym stands for (Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo, or International Audiovisual Market). Milazzotto spoke to Variety about how this unique event featuring [...]

  • Ken Burns

    Ken Burns, Library of Congress to Present Documentary Award to 'Flannery'

    Documentarian Ken Burns is partnering with the Library of Congress and two philanthropic organizations to present a new award to “Flannery,” a documentary about Flannery O’Connor. Filmmaker Elizabeth Coffman and Jesuit priest Mark Bosco will be presented the first Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film on Oct. 17 at the library. The award includes [...]

  • Palazzo BarberiniPalazzo Barberini, Rome, Italy -

    International Execs Descend on Rome as MIA Market Serves Fresh Films, TV Dramas, Docs

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries kicks off today with hundreds of international buyers descending upon the Eternal City for four-days (Oct. 16-20) of presentations of fresh top-notch mostly European product and dealmaking done in a more relaxed setting than Mipcom. The new concept mart now at its 5th edition, which [...]

  • Former Orange Studio Exec Andrei Kamarowsky

    Former Orange Studio Exec Andrei Kamarowsky Becomes Gulf Film COO (EXCLUSIVE)

    Andrei Kamarowsky, who recently stepped down from Orange Studio, where he spearheaded international, has joined Dubai-based distribution group Gulf Film as its chief operating officer. Founded three decades ago, Gulf Film is involved in both distribution and exhibition in the Middle East, and has close relationships with Studiocanal and Pathé, and output deals with STX [...]

  • Harry Connick Jr. American Idol

    Harry Connick Jr. to Receive Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

    Grammy and Emmy Award winner Harry Connick Jr will be honored with at star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next week. The ceremony will take place on the morning of Oct. 24. “When choosing a star location, we try to incorporate ties to the honoree and this one turned out to be a coincidence [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content