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A Little Romance

14 Apr

A Little Romance – Directed by George Roy Hill. Teen Romance. Two thirteen-year olds fall in love and take off for parts known. 110 minutes Color 1979.

* * * *

Diane Lane is 13 when she makes this, and the French boy is probably the same age, which is fun. Sally Kellerman plays her mother in a manner that is as obvious as the writing requires, and Arthur Hill plays her third husband, as subtlely as the writing requires. The only mystery is how he could have married such a rude, mean, shallow woman to begin with. David Dukes plays her oncoming boyfriend, a bad film director. The movie takes us to Paris, then to Verona in Italy and eventually to Venice. For me, the trouble with the film is that it is a Hollywoodization of a teenage elopement, and so the tone is all wrong. Sometimes the two children cut through the balderdash with their simple grace. And sometimes Laurence Olivier cuts through the slow pace with his virtuoso tricks, which are spellbinding, as always. He plays the children’s guardian devil, whose tedious charm and Fagan-like skills help propel them onto their adventure. Olivier was a master of Restoration farce, playing characters with names like Snipe, Wormwood, or Titter, and this is a performance perfectly suited to that genre, so it’s to be treasured as an example of his cold and cunning range and wit. Diane Lane is lovely in her role, and she also offers some reminiscences on the Special Features section about Olivier and the making of this film. It was her first film and it settled her fate, little did she know it at the time.

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