The French Kissers

  • Year:2009
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Riad Sattouf
  • Cast:Vincent Lacoste, Julie Scheibling, Anthony Sonigo, Alice Trémolières
  • Release Date:December 26, 2009
  • Distributor:Palace
  • Running time:85 minutes
  • Film Worth:$12.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Fresh and brutally sincere comedy that strays away from typical teen flicks.

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Audiences are so used to seeing teen flicks played out with stateside accents that it comes as a shock to see a similarly testosterone-fuelled laugh-fest in a Gallic idiom. Once the novelty wears off, however, this unabashedly frank account of two perpetually masturbating Brittany high school boys - Herve (Vincent Lacoste) and Camel (Anthony Sonigo) - proves to be a fresh, sincere and bitingly funny comedy, marking a winning debut by French filmmaker Riad Sattouf.

Rolling along at a brusque pace, The French Kissers doesn't pack a huge amount of plot into its airtight running frame, but it makes the act of speaking to a girl seem as taxing as casting a ring into Mount Mordor. Taciturn Herve is an ideal foil to Camel - a mulleted thrashhead - and the two bumble through life imagining hook-ups with their female classmates (not to mention the girls' mothers), but choking on their words when one comes close.

Noemie Lvovsky is a standout as Herve's single mum, who is tortured by her prurient son's antics through the duration of the film. Sattouf proves a deft dialogue craftsman in these sequences, treading well-worn territory with a rare candor, and punctuating scenes with a sometimes Woody Allen-esque eye for the sight gag.

Replicating much of what made his acclaimed graphic novels (like Return To Junior High) work, Sattouf doesn't overcook the magic formula - the music is direct and the cinematography is raw (the phrase "pimples-and-all" is the only one that could do justice to some of the gory close-ups on offer).

Sattouf is a fan of American indie vanguard Kevin Smith, and he has a similarly excellent ear for the way that young men speak. They might not be wordsmiths, but the painfully recognisable dialogue between Herve and Camel makes for big laughs, in any language.

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