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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Filmmaking > France > La Petite Lili

La Petite Lili


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C+



Sex, film and the distressed artist.  How many times have we heard that one and in most cases yawned about it and went on?  Sometimes it is just sex, film and the obsessed fan, which worked well enough in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (reviewed elsewhere on this site, with this critics liking it more than he who wrote it up), but it is usually a cliché that makes no point in the first case.  Claude Miller’s La Petite Lili (2003) based on Chekov’s play The Seagull.


Well, we’ve heard that one before, and though that sounds “classy”, this film is just not that good.  Our story begins with Lili (Ludivine Sagnier) taking her clothes off and having passionate sex with Julien (Robinson Stévenin), who turns out to be a filmmaker, something that runs in the family.  That includes his mother, Mado (Nicole Garcia), a former actress.  When Julien shows his art film to his family, chaos ensues and the passion between our young lovers dissipates quickly.  The rest of the film tries to be some kind of examination of their lives, but lands up being a hollow melodrama that offers some good acting that saves it from being a larger fiasco.  Chekov fans might enjoy it too, but the film does not hold up on its own as was hoped.


The letterboxed 1.85 X 1 image is more colorful and defined than usual for a non-anamorphic transfer, especially when color and a naturalistic-looking transfer is involved.  Cinematographer Gérard de Battista may have further saved the film from its problems with such a nice shooting job.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has vague Pro Logic surrounds, but not enough to matter.  Some records say this is a Dolby SR analog film, but it does not say that in the credits.  Extras include text interviews with Miller and Sagnier, stills, director biography and five trailers for other First Run releases.


Some people will make the ever-false argument that you should read the book before seeing the film, but that is always a cinematically illiterate, ignorant idea.  If anything, even a loose adaptation should work for those who have not read the book, even inspiring them to pick it up.  Yet, there is this snobbery from people who actually are not as well read as they pretend to be anyhow.  La Petite Lili disappoints, but we’ve seen worse, yet reading the book will not improve it.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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