Love on the Borderline | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Love on the Borderline

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At the center of this thoughtful, remarkably insouciant coming-of-age drama by the young French up-and-comer Catherine Corsini is Marc, a nice-looking teenager unsure of his sexuality and frustrated with his stifling provincial existence. When his promiscuous yet good-hearted older half sister Viviane returns after a long absence on the road, she becomes the object of his desire, and the two end up going on adventures in rowdy nightclubs in Belgium across the border from their staid small town. Viviane, who's also in search of love and fulfillment, goes through a series of middle-aged men, some of whom pay for her company. But her experience is the flip side of Marc's innocence, equally uninformed and troubled. Corsini, who cowrote the script, is careful not to be judgmental, letting the emotional quest of each sibling unfold naturally and believably even to the brink of incest. Corsini makes the right choice by settling for an open end, as Marc, realizing he's probably gay after all, marches determinedly into an uncertain future--a posture that brings to mind the final shot of The 400 Blows. What helps make this rather simple tale so engaging and realistic are the two central performances. Nathalie Richard (also memorable in Rivette's Up Down Fragile) is expressive and incandescent as Viviane; with the camera hovering around her, she casually exudes rebelliousness and sensual abandon. The 16-year-old Pascal Cervo is quite convincing in the role of the idealistic, hopeful Marc, down to the fits of jealousy and torment. Corsini also does a nice job evoking the sleepy rhythms and tawdry settings of rural France. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, November 29, 8:15, and Saturday, November 30, 4:00, 312-443-3737.

--Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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