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After a terrible car wreck in which he lay helpless under the body of his mother for hours, 11-year-old François is living with his grandparents. When his grandfather's mistress (Jacqueline Bisset) comes to pay them a visit, she and François find a great deal in common. Written by
Jean-François Maurin plays a young French boy, orphaned and living with relatives on their estate, who develops a passionate pre-teen crush on Jacqueline Bisset, a houseguest from London--and his uncle's not-so-secret mistress. Directed by celebrated photographer and designer Robert Freeman, with assistance from Paul Feyder, this melodrama looks exquisite, with artistic scene composition and misty-dreamy, autumnal locales. Cinematographer Peter Biziou obviously worked closely with Freeman in getting just the right look for the film, and his close-ups of Maurin's inquisitive, slightly repulsive little freckled face are commanding (we end up anticipating more from the youngster's expressions than what the screenplay eventually gives us). The plot isn't much more than an adult roundelay as seen through the eyes of a child, and most of the sequences involving the boy are uncomfortably rendered (perhaps because his actions and emotions--particularly his adolescent jealousy--seem almost personal and immediate). Overall, however, the picture doesn't quite work, and this may be due to Bisset's casting. Trapped underneath a thick blonde wig, Bisset is unable to communicate to us the character she's playing; the actress has always been a cool customer, and not really adept at being flirtatious (there's no spark of mischief in her calm, dead stare or even tones). Although we understand the boy's attraction to her beauty (even with that awful wig), Bisset doesn't intrinsically draw people to her. She could be acting all on her own, her scenes spliced into the narrative, and the effect would be the same. ** from ****
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