"L'Adolescente" has the ooh, but not the lala. Director Jeanne Moreau's second film is a flimsy little thing that never grows up to be a movie. It remains an immature, overdirected piece of fluff, prissy and icky.
Once-sexy Simone Signoret, who now looks like a sofa, stars as the wise matriarch of a family of vacationers in strife. She puts them on the mend with such homilies as "Only truth makes you free" and "Love is a battle that never ends." Petite Laetitia Chauveau plays her granddaughter, 12-year-old Marie, whose passage is the film's focus.
It is 1939 and Marie is visiting grandmere in her bucolic village peopled with fecund bumpkins. There, says the narrator, fires smolder beneath sleeping volcanoes. It is near the solstice. Ripening to rot. All the characters are lost in love. You can't help but think of "Midsummer Night's Dream," but don't blame Shakespeare: Moreau and Henriette Jelinek wrote the screenplay.
The plot, landscape by landscape, finally climaxes when Marie gets a crush on the town doctor, Alexandre (Francis Huster). This occurs about the time of her first period. Constant shots of the waxing moon whack us over the head as symbolic reminders. Everything in its season.
Then Marie senses that her mother(Edith Clever) is having an affair with Alexandre and tries to reconcile her mother and father by dousing them with a love potion from the village witch. It all ends with the little girl's getting cramps and Hitler's invading Poland. Neither to be taken lightly.
L'ADOLESCENTE -- At the Outer Circle.