We Don’t Learn. We Just Get Older, and We Know.

Posted: 19/06/2013 in 1953

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Just to be clear, Charles Walters’ coming of age film Lili is NOT a musical.  It has one song (a rather catchy one) and some dance sequences, but we cannot classify this film as a musical.  What this film is instead is a rather serious drama about an adolescent girl trying to find her place in the world.  Actually, this is a film where all of the characters are trying to come to terms with themselves.  Do not let the puppets fool you, this is by no means a kids movie.  It delicately explores rather deep themes of death, sexual assault, suicide and awakening.  For this reviewer, however, even within the confines of censorship, I still feel that Lili could have taken on these themes more directly.  Maybe I feel this way coming off of Pickup on South StreetStalag 17, and The Moon is Blue— all films that that ride the cutting edge this year.  This is more like edgy light, and I have a feeling that audiences will eat up the accessibility of this one.

Truthfully, I cannot quite decide how much I like this film.  I do not want to say anything too negatively because, quite frankly, I just fear making Leslie Caron cry.  Perhaps she is why this film manages to work.  There is this innocence that Miss Caron manages to exude that she balances with this inner bad girl longing to break out.  She’s like a lighter version of Maggie McNamera in The Moon is Blue, and one that you’d actually trust with your son.  There is a lingering charm that is a part of Miss Caron’s performance that I’m having a hard time shaking.  I really passed off the film as second rate after viewing it, and I still feel it leaves much to be desired in the areas of story development, direction, etc.  But it is Leslie Caron that takes this film from fair to good.  She’s the reason why people will continue to remember this film.  In addition to Miss Caron’s performance, the scoring of the film is very good.  Although I was expecting an actual musical, the beautiful score kept me from feeling completely empty.  As a drama, there will be better ones this year.  As a musical, there will be actual musicals this year.  But as a film with a very well-played vunerable performance but an up and coming French actress, Lili is to be remembered.

*** ~AOS

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