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Girl (La Fille Seule) (1995)
the opening scene in La Fille Seule unfolds, there is a sense that 1960 is
happening all over again. Instead of Jean-Paul Belmondos Michel walking up to the
cafe counter, counting the change in his pocket to the background sounds of cafe
culture, the new gamin, Remi, is played by Benoit Maginel. In an obvious homage to
Godards films from the Sixties, where the battle of the sexes is played to the sound
of pinball machines and cigarette haze, La Fille Seule attempts to recreate a
similar sexual tension in the Nineties, and almost succeeds.
The title female is Virginie,
played with careless doe-eyed brilliance by Virginie Ledoyen. Stopping by the cafe before
her first day of work at a posh hotel, Virginie must tell boyfriend Remi that she is
pregnant. Furthermore, Virginie wants to keep the baby. As the Parisian morning commences,
the two not-so-adult figures must contemplate a very adult situation. The easiest way for
them to communicate is to throw verbal spars, entering a cycle of fighting and absolution.
They are infatuated, but as Virginie suspects aloud, love is not enough to keep a
relationship going. Remi is a likable louse: he lives with his parents, has no job and is
without ambition or ideals.
Virginies morning is
observed in real time, as she weaves back and forth between her private world with Remi,
and her public duties at the hotel. The hotel is a microcosm of French societythe
characters are either those who serve or those who are served. Among the hotel employees
is Sabine, who works the room service shift with Virginie. Sabine is unhappily entering
the old-maid years. Without the hope of love in the near future, she watches with
bitterness as men fall for Virginie. Virginie is the type of girl guys fall for, not
unlike another Jacquot heroine in La
Desenchantee. Sabine is the only person in the hotel who interests Virginie; she
guesses Virginie is pregnant and gives her some hard advice.
The most compelling moments of
the film are when Virginie sneaks off to call her mother. The spectator is privileged to
their relationship only through Virginie, who breaks between being a spoiled brat and a
soothing mothers companion. Their relationship is not as easy to pin down as
Virginie's relationships with others.
During the street scenes,
passerbys stare directly at the camera, giving the film the impression of an underground
fly-by production. The stares also evoke the idea that everyone has become a voyeur into
this girls private musings. The dialogue resorts to trite mutterings, but somehow
fits into the language of these two overgrown teenagers.
It is striking how quietly the
film plays. Sounds, especially human noises, seem a transgression on the cameras all
too physical worship of Virginie. Besides being beautiful, Ledoyen arms Virginie with a
grace of child-like sadness and spunk that is at once captivating and off-putting.
La Fille Seule is a
collection of gestures and glimpses that build to create a compelling character study of a
lonely, single girl.
- Sue Hugh