Directed: Lewis Gilbert
Language: English, French
Genre: Coming of Age, Romance
In this teen romance, a young neglected English boy (Sean Bury) runs away and becomes friends with a French girl (Anicée Alvina) in the same plight. Together, they go to an idyllic marsh location in France (the Camargue), become lovers, set up housekeeping, have a baby, and play at being responsible adults, discovering along the way many of the troubles involved before ultimately becoming separated by Police responding to a missing persons report.
The film found a significant niche audience with its idyllic portrayal of teen love, and quite possibly due to its inclusion of frontal nudity of the then-17-year-old female protagonist (who was portrayed as 14 in the film). This was enough to justify the 1974 sequel, Paul and Michelle, in which the young family is reunited and has to cope with a new love interest for the girl, and the difficulties of work and college while trying to maintain a family.
Movie ReviewsScott Murray, a film maker, remembers some "expert" criticisms about this wonderful movie:
Leonard Maltin: "Yucky early-teen romance about French boy and girl who run off to the seashore, set up housekeeping, and have a baby ... then Mommy and Daddy show up to take them home."
Well, the boy is English, not French; they go tho the Camargue, not the seashore; there is no Mommy, the boy's mother having abandoned him (and her husband) six years earlier, and the girl's mother having died during childbirth; and, four, at film's end, the boy faces arrest by a police inspector, with not a parent in sight.
With four major errors in less than three lines, Mr. Maltin sets a new standard in critical (in)accuracy.
The Motion Picture Guide says: "Terrible teenage drama starring [Sean] Bury and [Anicée] Alvina as two unloved French kids who run off together and set up housekeeping on a deserted beach. They have a baby and, shortly afterward, their apologetic parents show up and take them away."
What is going on here? Is there a parallel universe where a different version of the film is circulating, corresponding to what Maltin and the Motion Picture Guide describe?
And The Chicago Sun Times, by the hand of Roger Ebert wrote: "Friends is the most sickening piece of corrupt slop I've seen in a long time. It's so cynical in its manipulation of youth, innocence, sunsets and all the rest that you squirm with embarrassment. There are probably no 14- or 15-year-olds in the entire world like these two; they seem to have been created specifically for the entertainment of subscribers to Teenage Nudist. The archness of their "innocence" toward sex is, finally, just plain dirty. And the worst thing is that the movie seems to like it that way."
Well, where are these critics noawadays?
I'm sure in some psychiatric hospital, no doubt about it.