Wild Reeds (1994) from Tuna

"Wild Reeds", aka "Les Roseaux Sauvages" is a lovely coming-of-age movie that takes place in the south of France in the early 60's, amid a backdrop of the was in Algeria. It could never have been made in The US. One of the 4 young people involved in the plot discovers he is gay -- that is not breaking new ground. What is unique, however, is that all of the others accept it, and treat it as natural. Elodie plays the only girl of the foursome. She is bright, independent, highly political and not ready for sex. A less than ideal home life has soured her on the idea of traditional marriage, and she "can't decide whether to make love to everyone or nobody -- they are the same thing."
Something that has been nagging at me since I started watching foreign films is the fact that these European actresses all have an incredible charm that erupts from the screen, even with the language barrier. They have a joy of life, and an incredible human appeal no matter what the role. Very few modern American actresses have the same quality.


Elodie Bouchez is topless briefly in two camera set-ups.
It doesn't seem to me that this was always the case. Audrey Hepburn had it. Shirley MacLaine had it in her early roles. Sandy Duncan had it. Goldie Hawn has it. I now think I know what "it" is. American actresses do everything they can to capture the camera -- plastic surgery, silicone implants, severe makeup, starvation dieting and carefully controlled acting on set. European actresses integrate their personalities into the role, and then allow the camera to capture them. In the first case, a movie becomes a series of sequential photographs, carefully posed, and devoid of personality or charm. This probably stems from the American woman's compulsion to live up to the Madison Avenue image of the ideal woman. I prefer the European attitude by far. Many frames definitely do not show Elodie at her most beautiful, yet it all certainly makes her appealing. I suspect that a Hollywood actress would sue the studio if expressions like this made the final cut.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • This is another case of a Foreign film that was simply copied to DVD, not re-mastered for DVD. The sub-titles could not be turned off, and there were no alternate language choices.

Scoop's comments: For better or worse, I agree with Tuna that it is unlikely that someone looking like Elodie Bouchez would become a star in Hollywood, except in character roles like the ones played by Janeane Garofalo or Jane Adams. She may have the talent, but her non-standard looks would hold her back from leading roles.

I think the movie could get made in the USA, but not as a studio film. It would have to be an indie. It is a sensitive and affecting movie, a slice-of-life with no contrived plot development. Many consider it a classic already. I like it, but don't recommend it if you aren't predisposed to enjoy foreign films.

I think some American actresses manage to achieve what Tuna is talking about. For example, Annette Bening.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3.5/4, Maltin 3.5/4.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.9, classic level! This is even better than the critical consensus.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

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