Director: Céline Sciamma
Literally meaning ‘The Birth of Octopuses’, La Naissance des Pieuvres depicts a coming of age story set around three girls, brought together through synchronised swimming.
Marie, Anne and Florianne all share one passion: they love the swimming pool and are each incredibly different from one another. Flawless Florianne (Adèle Haenel)- the girl who’s the dream of many boys and men alike and hated by almost all of the other girls at the swimming pool, Marie who has been described as a tomboy but I think is just grumpy and rude (Pauline Acquart) and who is drawn to the swimming pool through her (slightly worrying) obsession with Florianne and Anne, the geeky and outspoken friend who I absolutely adore (Louise Blachère).
Marie, infatuated with Florianne, starts to follow her (creepily) in order to get to the swimming pool, she watches Marie shower and frequently gets upset when Marie kisses a different boy, or goes off with one of them. Other girls say that Florianne is a slut and at one point, one girl calls her out on it, whilst Florianne is eating a banana. Kudos to Florianne, she turns round and verbally smacks that girl down. (This is possibly the best her character gets. Not that it’s any bad acting on Haenel’s part as I’ve seen her in L’Apollonide and she was fantastic in that, and here she plays the pompous, stereotypical ‘It’ girl effortlessly.)
Anyway, Marie and Florianne hit it off – though I’m not entirely sure how. For half of the film we’re convinced that Marie is being used as Florianne’s slave – doing her hair, walking with her to meet boys and generally running errands in order to be granted entrance to the swimming club and then suddenly after they talk about Florianne’s experiences with boys, they hit it off. Although slightly confusing, it may be a pointed reference to the confusing time that both girls are going through – discovering their sexuality through their friendship and how Marie feels rejected everytime Florianne kisses a boy or flirts.
Around the same time, Marie ditches Anne. Not enough is said about Anne. She is amazing. Though, unfortunately shes the ‘overweight’ character when in reality, I don’t really think she is overweight at all. The ‘overweight’ character in most films really gets on my nerves just because they’re usually seen as a joke, and I might write about it on my other blog (a feminist blog which you can find here.) Marie pretty much ditches Anne by calling her fat and childish. Nice. I guess in a way, this really does bring us back to reality. We’re so swept up in Marie and Florianne’s relationship (or at least we’re supposed to be) that we forget that they are 15 year old girls. This verbal slap from Marie shows us that yep, we’re definitely back in high school here.
Of course, the theme that runs through this is ‘coming of age’. Marie and Florianne discovering their sexualities and Anne stuck in a period between childishness (otherwise known as being carefree and awesome) and trying to be more grown up (perhaps being used by a man – we’re not really sure). We can all look at Marie, Florianne and Anne and recognise a little bit of ourselves and other people that we know in each of them.
I’m in 2 minds about La Naissance des Pieuvres because on one hand, I appreciate that people who are much more artistic than me will probably find it genuinely interesting and insightful and I suppose I can relate to it slightly (only very slightly: I’m being generous here), on the other hand I think it’s OTT, boring and I want to slap some sense into Marie so she stops being so horrible to Anne.
la conasse – bitch (stupid, offensive)
me cache! – Cover me!
les conneries – stupid stuff (bullshit) – very familiar!
les rêveries – daydreams