Look at Me

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Look at Me Movie Poster Image
A woman comes to terms with her father's limits.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 110 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Violence
Sex

References to sex.

Language

Some profanity.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this intelligent, charming French film has subtitles and includes mild references to sex (for instance, a twentysomething couple's gentle kissing leads to off-screen sex). The film focuses on intergenerational tensions, as an aspiring singer must learn to move past her anger at her egotistical, famous novelist father, and stand on her own, with her own relationships, ambitions, and self-image. Characters drink (especially wine) and smoke, and women worry about their weight.

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What's the story?

Life with celebrity novelist Etienne Cassard (played by co-writer Jean-Pierre Bacri) is difficult. He's demanding, used to getting his way, and willfully ignorant of the feelings of those around him. He expects deference from his 20-something wife Karine (Virginie Desarnauts) and his 20-year-old daughter Lolita (Marilou Berry). Though Lolita has grown up with her father ignoring her in favor of doting fans and hangers-on, she still wants his approval, indicated by her repeated efforts to please him. Her current plan is to become a singer: she practices assiduously, working with her teacher Sylvia (co-writer and director Agnes Jaoui). It happens that Sylvia's husband, Pierre (Laurent Grevill) is a struggling novelist; with his last book published years ago, he's feeling sorry for himself and like a "kept husband." When Sylvia learns Lolita's identity, she exploits her relationship to advance Pierre's career, eventually coming to regret this choice, when she witnesses Etienne's unkindness.

Is it any good?

A Cannes Film Festival best screenplay winner, LOOK AT ME is a captivating study of fame and family, betrayal and trust. Karine's apprehensions echo Lolita's, which correspond to Pierre's (as he is drawn into Etienne's sphere, he begins to act like him, mimicking his interest in pretty girls, forgetting old friends and obligations), which in turn affects Sylvia. Lolita has been negotiating her father's self-absorption for so long that she now assumes it even as she rails against it. "I'm a zero," she sobs to a new friend, Sebastien (Keine Bouhiza). When he confesses his similar anxieties, she can't even hear him: "Not as much as me," she insists. Though Sebastien can only nod his support here, their friendship evolves into mutual support and affection, so neither has to feel like a "zero."

While Etienne's renown initiates the film's array of conflicts, it's more a symptom than a cause of loss. Whether Lolita comes to see this in herself is left somewhat open in this rewarding, subtle movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Lolita's low self-esteem and judgments of other people, as these stem from her experiences with her father (who ignores or criticizes her, but who also shows himself to be vulnerable and afraid of being abandoned, that is, not wholly bad). Families can also discuss the ways that Lolita's nuanced relationship with her supportive music teacher helps both women to understand themselves more fully. How do parents inadvertently hurt their children's feelings? How can children develop autonomy and self-assurance while also respecting their parents?

Movie details

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