November 29, 1982 12:00 PM

A gentle, lushly photographed tale of a girl’s awakening, this is the second film directed by French actress Jeanne Moreau (1976’s La Lumière was the first). Skinny 12-year-old Marie, endearingly played by Laetitia Chauveau, is spending the summer of 1939 with her parents at her grandmother’s village home. Grandma is the finest any girl could have: Simone Signoret, 61, whose marvelous face shows that she has not only lived but learned. The story is slender but evocative. Marie develops a crush on a handsome young Jewish doctor. She is surprised by the onset of menstruation but comforted by her grandmother. Her parents quarrel, and Marie finds that her mother and the doctor are having an affair. She secures a love potion from the village “witch” and is pleased to see that it works to reconcile her parents at summer’s end. Despite portentous references to the coming war, much of the film achieves an air of delicate enchantment—like the scene in which Marie and her grandmother gather curative dew during the night of the summer solstice. Moreau (who herself was 11 in 1939) has filmed a nostalgic elegy for both childhood and the vanished prewar French village. Though her nostalgia, like anyone’s, doesn’t really chronicle life as it was, Moreau’s quiet little film beautifully captures the way it should have been. (In French with English subtitles) (Unrated)

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