Puppy Love : “You can escape everything, but not this”
by Domenico La Porta
- Director Delphine Lehericey signs a sensitive first film on the loss of innocence, discovered at the San Sebastian Film Festival and in competition in Zurich...
The 61st edition of the San Sebastian Film Festival confirms in a world avant-première a talent noticed in 2007 with the medium-length movie Comme à Ostende and two years later with the choir documentary Les Arbitres of which a segment was directed by filmmaker Delphine Lehericey. Puppy Love [+see also:
film profile] is her first feature film.
Diane (Solène Rigot), 14 years old, is going through a sensual awakening. Her teenage crisis is made more complicated by her enigmatic and solitary nature as well as the fusional relationship she has with her single father (Vincent Perez). To this confusion is added the pressure of the “obligatory passage”, as qualified by Julia (Audrey Bastien), her liberated new neighbour. For a semester, Diane follows Julia in the exploration of what she imagines to be her own desires...
Everything in Puppy Love is seen through the lens of sexuality. From the opening scene that films the awkwardness of a teenage couple failing in their first clumsy encounter (“I don’t think I want this anymore”), the film follows up with the apathetic relationship Diane entertains with pornography and an X-rated encrypted movie broadcasted on French television. This first cycle of the character’s exposition ends with the first sexual emotion attained through a masturbation scene in the family bathroom. “One day, it’ll be your turn. You can escape everything, but not this”, says Julia as a prophecy, after she becomes Diane’s mentor, limiting her teachings to the moral aspects (“one night stands are nothing”, “I don’t care about men, it’s just for fun”). Diane is under no parental authority from her father whom she dominates and who remained an eternal teenager.
Thanks to accurate actors directed in a modest and sensitive manner, Delphine Lehericey is able to draw a both universal and intimate portrait of a teenager in crisis who is discovering her body and desires but also her own values in her emotional relationship to sexuality. “It didn’t hurt, I didn’t feel anything”, she concludes after her first sexual encounter as her friend replies: “It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you did it!”. From discoveries to deception, it won’t take long for Diane to suffer an intimate pain, which might well be the only true “obligatory passage” in the loss of innocence, but is set well apart from the loss of her virginity.
Set in between the sexual liberation of the 70’s and the arrival of the Internet, Puppy Love benefits from an original soundtrack by Belgian electro-pop band Soldout which brings back memories of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The film opens with a remake of It’s a sin by the Pet Shop Boys and ends very coherently with a chorus that says “I was a teenager” in the past, as Diane finally finds her own path through the crisis. She has broken away from Julia from a moral perspective (“I am not like that”) and smiles to the camera after having literally crossed a motorway of dangers on foot.
This coproduction between Belgium (Entre Chien et Loup), Switzerland (Box Productions), France (Liaison Cinématographique) and Luxembourg (Juliette Films) is competing in San Sebastian for the Premio Kutxa, a category dedicated to new directors. Puppy Love is also in competition at the 9th Zurich Film Festival, which begins on September 26, 2013.
Puppy Love’s international sales are handled by Spanish company Latido Films.
(Translated from French)
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