Girls Can’t Swim

This psychologically acute first feature (2000) by Anne-Sophie Birot about the passionate friendship between two teenage girls, adroitly played by Isild Le Besco and Karen Alyx, could have made a swell entry in the excellent French TV series of the mid-90s All the Boys and Girls in Their Time, in which various better-known filmmakers dramatized stories set during their teenage years. This one has a contemporary setting (in a Breton coastal village during the summer), but it shares with the aforementioned TV films a frankness about teenage sexuality that French filmmakers seem especially comfortable with. According to the implications of Birot’s disturbing scenario, the fathers of teenage girls pose a particular problem in relation to their sexuality either through absence or excessive presence. This follows the more promiscuous girl (Le Besco) first, then boldly switches to her troubled best friend (Alyx) before bringing the two together in an uneasy reunion. In French with subtitles. 101 min. (JR)

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