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  • Tendres cousines
    • Tendres cousines
    • Runtime:92 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-24 18:26:27
    • Director: David Hamilton
    • Genres: Drama, Romance
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Tendres cousines


This is variously described as an "erotic coming of age film", on one
hand, and "child pornography" on other. NEITHER is accurate in my
opinion. Starting with the latter, gimme a frickin' break–the girls in
this movie are certainly nubile, but they look maybe seventeen at the
youngest. In America these days they make hardcore porn films where
young-looking girls get gang-banged in every orifice practically at
their 18th birthday party, so I just can't get offended at a relatively
innocuous French nudie movie like this because some of the actresses
may have been seventeen and a half at the time (same age as my high
school girlfriend circa 1986). As for the male lead, having once been a
fourteen-year-old boy I just can't imagine he was too traumatized by
participating in fairly non-graphic sex scenes with all these gorgeous
"older" women. And since I also looked at myself in the mirror a few
times when I was that age, I frankly don't think much about adolescent
male nudity one way or another (and really there isn't much of that

This IS a David Hamilton film. He is considered a "notorious" director,
but frankly most of his films are so notorious I can barely stay awake
watching them. This film has a WWII period setting and it is surprising
long on plot for a David Hamilton film (where the "plot" is often just
an excuse to get from one naked nubile girl to the next). Still while
the very lame ending is true to his usual form, the highest compliment
I can pay this film is that it is a typical mediocre French film of
that era for most of its running time. Hamilton was considered a great
photographer and if you enjoy his typical
slather-some-more-vasoline-on-the-camera-lens visual style, you'll
probably enjoy this. (I just thank god the period setting precluded his
usual choice of horrid late 70's/early 80's music).

As for Anja Shute and the other young actresses, this was made in 1980.
I'm not saying that to be morally relativistic, but EVERY heterosexual
male who is a couple years younger than dead harbors an attraction to
the adolescent girls of his own youth. These girls are the main appeal
of this and all other Hamilton movies (lets just be honest), but the
appeal (at least today)is NOSTALGIA, not pedophilia (these girls were
definitely NOT children). This is no masterpiece. Hamilton had no grasp
on plot, drama, or dialogue (whatever his gifts as a cinematographer),
but it's really nothing to morally hyperventilate about either.


Film is still young enough for there to be credible arguments about
just what it is.

Its entirely possible for someone to believe it is about what
photography is, what the majority of us think photography is.

Here's a photographer, and he believes that. His photographs evoke
remembrances of an innocent sexuality, false memories certainly but
sweet smelling. There's a deliberate unreality in the photos, with
girls in nearly surreal poses with the lens gauzed as if there were a
barrier of sorts between our reality and that we see — or is it

There's all sorts of implied narrative in these still photos. They are
so, so very rich in what they imply.

Now to film. I've seem "Laura," which was successful in a minor way
because the artist dreaming about the new woman was placed in the story
explicitly. Oh and he has vision problems, and he needs to translate
his story by shifting senses (to touch) just as we do from photo to

This is his next project. I really don't know what he was thinking.
Before he had sexual imaginings, here he simply has sex. Before he
focused on a wonderful symmetry: our imaginations of a young girl
balanced with her imaginings of an older man. I guess he thought he
could work a similar symmetry here with a young boy instead of the
older artist. But it fails in an extraordinarily large way.

I think that is because in this case he invested too much in the story,
the power of the story to carry the thing, and he drifted too far away
from where he has power, the image. I think "Walkabout" successfully
does what this attempts. Go there instead.

Ted's Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with
this part of your life.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like David Hamilton’s artistic photographs of nude women at the
border of womanhood, sometimes erotic, though never pornographic.
Someone else liked them, too, because my David Hamilton books were
stolen. In one book were seen a few pictures of a young boy, obviously
nude, intimate with a young woman older than he, also nude. Though
discrete, there was strong sexual connotation. New territory for David
Hamilton which proved to be either stills from the movie Tendres
Cousines or perhaps photos taken on set.

The art of still photography unfortunately does not automatically
translate to cinematography. Soft focus becomes out-of-focus and
discrete angles become confusing, perhaps because, in motion, they
cannot be considered. You either see it or miss it and there’s no time
to observe, to comprehend. The movie is supposed to be a farce, and
funny things do happen, but it doesn’t "hang together," perhaps because
the story develops so slowly and one may wonder just what’s going on.
Eventually, the 14-year-old Julien has intercourse with his cousin, but
it’s soft core, with no genital contact shown on camera. Since it’s a
farce, we have a disappointing virgin and an embarrassing caught in the
act gag and, having caught them, Julien’s father even gives him a
cigarette to complete the experience. In fairness, the film is in
French and conforms to French cinematic forms, which may just be too
subtle for most Americans even with English subtitles to help us
Phillistines along.

It’s been suggested that this film is child pornography and that
certainly results from today’s climate where sexual exploitation of
children is clearly a serious problem. Nobody in their right mind wants
to endorse or appear to endorse the sexual abuse of children, so
there’s practically no room left for children to be seen in even the
mildest erotic context without immediately activating alarms over
sexual violence and exploitation. Guys will think "Lucky Julien!" even
as they agree that sex and children in the movies is a "bad thing," all
the while still wishing they could have been a Julien at that age.
Women, too, may have similar thoughts, but all such considerations must
be pushed out of one’s conscious mind. Hysterically, the worst
assumptions have become automatic and matters of children and sex are
rigorously avoided. Too bad, since sexual awakening is a real human
experience. Afer all, children do grow up and become sexual beings as
Julien does. It’s a fit literary subject, cinema included, but taboo
under the threat of sexual violence against children. David Hamilton, I
think, was taking a risk to make a movie on this topic even in 1980. He
was somewhat successful at exploring this sensitive topic, and,
unfortunately, we’re unlikely to see better in the near future for fear
of the child pornography label.

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