Posted May 8, 2011 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

Love Like Poison


Love Like Poison tells the simple, aching tale of fourteen year old Anna’s fading childhood, as she has her first sexual experiences against the backdrop of her crumbling family life. Marking director Katell Quillévéré’s feature debut, the film is an assured mood piece delicately dealing with many of the taboos of growing up.

Love Like Poison tells the simple, aching tale of fourteen year old Anna’s fading childhood, as she has her first sexual experiences against the backdrop of her crumbling family life. Marking director Katell Quillévéré’s feature debut, the film is an assured mood piece delicately dealing with many of the taboos of growing up.

Set in a quiet town in the French countryside, Anna’s fragile and uncertain situation is lent an intangible urgency by the occasional, and measured use of handheld camerawork, for example when her young boyfriend Pierre tries to kiss her for the first time. She is surrounded by unchecked sexuality, not only from Pierre but also from her dying Grandfather, who becomes aroused as she helps him get washed and dressed. The comfort and safety of her home and family is over; her father left her mother for a younger woman, and her mother can’t be the support to Anna that she would like to be, as she is struggling to come to terms with the fact that her ex husband will always love Anna, but not her.

The narrative meanders a little to begin with, but soon the fluid style of storytelling sucks you in, and each successive moment of insight hypnotises. Under her father and Pierre’s influence, Anna also begins to doubt her Catholic faith, and this leads her to feel more alone than ever. Her relationship with Pierre becomes an escape for her, as she seeks to replace the comfort and acceptance that her family can no longer provide.

The cinematography has a distinctly old fashioned feel to it, even making moments when modern technology such as camera phones are used feel a little incongruous, and it always maintains a beautifully low contrast image of the characters and locations. The carefully put together soundtrack also contributes to this feeling, with Anna’s Grandfather playing French ‘oldies but goodies’ to her on his record player.

Newcomer Clara Augarde plays Anna, giving an impressively natural and intense performance. The supporting roles are also acted with detail and intimacy, particularly that of the local priest, a troubled and suppressed man who has to resist going to greater lengths than are appropriate in comforting Anna’s mother, who is trying to get closer to God in an effort to overcome her jealously of her daughter.

A gently told tale of the emotional growing pains of adolescence, Love Like Poison is a slight but almost faultless work of cinema. It will leave you with many lingering thoughts, summed up by this quote from the town priest: “We must take suffering as proof of our humanity”.


Marcia Degia - Publisher

 
Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.