The French title of this lovely family film is Jamais Contente, which I think translates as ‘never satisfied’ and this seems an apt description of both the affliction of the central character, 13-year-old Aurore, and the attitude of the adults around her. Aurore is repeating year 7, has a younger sister who always gets good grades and an older one who seems to do what she likes. Aurore feels misunderstood by all and disenfranchised from her family.
Anyone with kids this age will know the mystifying gulf between parental expectations and the reality of life for a teenager. Aurore feels she disappoints everyone at every turn but is helpless to find a way out. For her, a glimmer of hope comes when a new teacher listens when she speaks her mind and encourages more. This is the catalyst for little moments of courage that don’t always pay off but begin to lead her, and those she loves, toward a greater acceptance of herself.
This is a gently funny film. Léna Magnien is wonderful as Aurore – spiky, determined, not afraid to speak her mind. You want her to succeed without losing any of that chutzpah. I saw this in a cinema full of teenagers on a school trip and I loved hearing their responses; when Aurore tells her mum she is stupid and ugly they all gasped. The dynamics of the family feel real, how parents struggle when a child just won’t toe the line, and there is nothing glossy or pat about the narrative or the bittersweet feel-good ending.
Bechdel test – pass