La Tête de Maman
Carine Tardieu :: France :: 2006 :: 1h35
Lulu is 15 years old, living in an idealized French countryside with her parents. Her mother has been depressed and sickly as far back as she can remember, a state which is about to be challenged by a Lulu who slips slowly into young adulthood. The real trigger occurs when Lulu stumbles on an old picture of her mother, where she’s radiant, and Lulu realizes something must have happened along the way. Her second thought, being the entrepreneurial type that she is, is it may also be the route to get her back. A two generational first-love tale unfolds with Lulu at the helm.
The script and movie has the marks of a young woman all over it, both in its strengths and in its weaknesses. One of the great strengths of the film, is Lulu’s character. Not only are the dialogues well-done, but we also get a credible insight into her thoughts which are often brusk and abrupt. They are also very funny, for a large part because it is credible. Visually, we see her as a tomboy and at other times as a pretty young women. This mild oscillation of character presentation goes perfectly hand in hand with her words. As thoughtfully as the female characters (Lulu, mother, grandmother) are presented, that’s how inversely flat the male (love interest) characters are. Since it is somewhat inherent within the project, an Almodovarian -we’ll just cut them out- attitude could have been considered. The most obvious example is her father, who gets quite some screen time, but without properly establishing his character. He is endlessly patient towards his depressed wife, but some indication why he loves her so would have helped, even if it was out of a Christian obligation.
Some small details went over the top – the father’s sympathetic nod to his wife’s old love was just too much. As for Lulu, she could have been a little nicer to her girl-friend to justify their friendship, but even if we brush over these imperfections, you still have a beautiful, funny and captivating tale left. It is rare to see such depth of a young character in cinema. An excellent debut by Ms Tardieu which I highly recommend.
(There’s a beautiful Press File available, if you can read French)