A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this love story about two very young teens includes a few gentle kisses that seem appropriate for their age and level of maturity. The romantic leads disobey their parents, but not without guilt and consequences; they also sneak off with a bottle of champagne, but it doesn't turn into a drunken spectacle. Some kids start to watch a pornographic film, however, the movie is not seen and is identified only by the reaction of the teens and the sounds of some heavy breathing and moaning. Several nude male sculptures are on display in a Paris museum. Occasional swearing is heard (i.e. "hell," "boobs," "bastards," "Jesus Christ,"). Adults drink wine and champagne in moderation on several occasions. Action scenes are restricted to one punch, a collision during a foot chase, and short clips from old movies.
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What's the story?
Lauren (Diane Lane, 13 years old, in her first film role) is an American girl living with her well-to-do parents in Paris in 1979. She's brighter than most, with a philosophical bent, and has few friends. Daniel (Thelonius Bernard) is a brilliant, free-spirited French boy, obsessed with American movies. When the two meet there's an immediate, joyful connection as Daniel shares "his Paris" with Lauren. But though their relationship intensifies quickly, circumstances and a shallow mother get in their way. Determined to be together, they embark on a daring quest to share a legendary kiss under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy at sundown. Their only ally is a charming, elderly Frenchman (Laurence Olivier), who unknowingly aids them on their runaway adventure.
Is it any good?
There's a wonderful innocence and sincerity to this story of first love, with none of the harsh edges that seem to characterize more recent popular teen romances. Open-hearted young teens, even preteens, will relate to the characters, root for them, and most likely, experience the romance along with Lauren and Daniel.
It's a film parents can share and enjoy, too. Diane Lane is terrific in her film debut. Paris and the Italian cities of Verona and Venice cast their enchanted spells, and the Academy Award-winning musical score is sparkling, as well. Even a few one-dimensional characters and some outrageous over-acting (at the risk of tarnishing an icon, Olivier's performance is dazzlingly hammy) can't spoil the sweetness of this film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the two very distinct lifestyles this movie portrays. In spite of the differences in upbringing, how were Lauren and Daniel the same? What did they learn from each other?
Describe the qualities that made Lauren's stepdad, Richard, the most effective parent in this film. Are there any people like Richard in your life?
This movie is set in 1979. Do you think teens have changed in how they choose to rebel against their parents' demands and expectations? Do the behaviors exhibited now seem more or less dangerous than the ones depicted in this film?
For kids who love romance
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