Marie Baie des Anges

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Marie Baie des Anges

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Marie Baie des Anges

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Because it's a piece of land and, therefore, blissfully unsusceptible to the contrivances of 30-year-old director Manuel Pradal, the gorgeous, sun-drenched setting of the French Riviera remains the only consistently reliable pleasure in Marie Baie des Anges. The rest of the film is a loose, second-hand smattering of movie archetypes and affectations that's so sealed off from any known reality, it could be a parody of the French New Wave. Vahina Giocante, a gifted nonprofessional actress who has drawn comparisons to a young Brigitte Bardot, stars as the title character, a self-reliant teenager coming to terms with her budding sexuality. Flirtatious and beautiful, she captures the attention of a predatory group of American sailors (imagine mildly sadistic variations on the Gene Kelly character in Anchors Aweigh) and a glowering young thief (Frédéric Malgras) lifted straight from The 400 Blows. Marie Baie des Anges gets off to a promising start, and there's a germ of a good movie here about adolescents enslaved by their own hormones. But once Giocante and Malgras steal a motorboat and flee to a deserted island together, Pradal's script plunges into a series of pointless, silly elliptical interludes, at least half of which involve Giocante running through a field in a floral sundress. Unfettered by the slightest obligation to his character's motivations, Pradal gives himself the freedom he needs to bring this amour fou to a head-scratching conclusion.

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