This one’s more polished and assured than Disorder but feels no less personal or exploratory even. This one again starts off with a robbery but this time around, it’s an even younger teenage couple stealing records seemingly in an act of banal teenage rebellion. Unfortunately the girl is caught and the film mutates into something darker as sadder as it exposes the inevitable chasm between the kids and their parents’ generations.
The first half is perhaps not as dynamic as the second half, but it still has one of the most revealing scenes of the unbridgeable gap that can sometimes exists between parents and kids. The young boy, Giles, and his father are having a civil, polite conversation that could so easily be a warm tender moment. The father is sharing his very emotional response to Caravaggio’s “Death of the Virgin”. We soon realize that the discussion on art was but a gateway for the father to bring up the boy’s performance at school and instantly, the moment of potential tenderness and connection is ruptured. It’s a film in which almost no one seems to be really listening to the other person except for the brief moments of connection between Giles and Christine and even they are not always honest with each other.
The second half of the film is just an utter delight. Assayas pretty much abandons dialogue altogether and situates the rest of film in a kind of idyllic youth island where a group of teenagers are having a party. They dance, smoke pot, make out and eventually start a rather big bonfire as CCR, Janis Joplin, Alice Cooper, Donovan and Guns N Roses play in the background. The diversity in music picks just adds to the authenticity of the scene.. as if different people are walking towards the record player and switching out records in between. It’s a really great scene but the highlight for me was the two young lovers hiding away as Nico’s “Janitor of Lunacy” plays hauntingly in the background while the adults come looking for the runaways and we hear the sound of gunshots and shattered glass over the music.
The most poignant thing about the film is the realization that the kids are trying to run away not just from the specific adults and authority figures in their life but from adulthood itself. In one single scene between Christina’s mother and Giles, it’s easy to see why Christina is willing to stake everything to avoid end up bitter and resentful like her mother. Electricity and running water seems like a small sacrifice in that scheme of things.