Growing up French in a world of crises

September 02, 1995|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

"Wild Reeds," which snuck into the Charles yesterday, is an unpretentious look at coming of age, as experienced -- or endured -- by four young Frenchmen and women. The year is a difficult one -- 1962, when the French colonization of Algeria was ending in a cloud of bitter violence and recriminations.

These tensions are felt everywhere, even in a provincial town which is the setting of "Wild Reeds." Serge (Stephane Rideau) and Francois (Gael Morel) get along just fine, although Francois, the "sensitive one," realizes he is gay and is attracted to the husky Serge. He's also best friends with Maite (Elodie Bouchez), a liberal young woman whose sense of political correctness is upset by the attraction she feels for a newcomer, Henri (Frederic Gorny), a Pied-noir -- that is, a refugee from the failed colony in Algeria.

The movie is low-key and remains resolutely anti-melodramatic as it follows these young people through a whole set of crises. Clearly autobiographical (Techine has admitted as much), the film has the hazy feel of real life instead of the forced feel of movie drama.

MOVIE REVIEW

"Wild Reeds"

Starring Frederic Gorny and Elodie Bouchez

Directed by Andre Techine

Released by Strand

Unrated (nudity)

***

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