Picks and Pans Review: 36 Fillette

updated 01/16/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/16/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Lili is 14, frustrated and French. To the credit of this teasing, oddly touching comedy of sexual initiation, you might need more than two guesses to figure where the movie is heading. Lili is played by Delphine Zentout—a 16-year-old newcomer with the pout and plumpness of the young Linda Blair. (The title, by the way, refers to her dress size.) Vacationing in Biarritz with her parents, the bored Lili vows to lose her virginity. When a 40ish salesman, expertly acted by Etienne Chicot, picks her up one night in his BMW, she's intrigued. He's intrigued, too, by her low-cut blouse. Her insults about his age only spur him on. An all-night erotic tussle in his hotel room leaves Chicot infuriated and Zentout's virtue intact. The scene, like the movie, is both funny and painful. French writer-director Catherine Breillat has adapted her admittedly autobiographical novel into a film about the havoc wreaked by desire and shame. Breillat handles a touchy subject with rare delicacy. Her startling film lingers in the memory. It's an anomaly: both naughty and nice. (Not rated; in French with subtitles)

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