While her friends play cops and robbers, broodingly precocious 9-year-old Anna (Nina Kervel) is asked by younger brother François to play "Allende and Franco," the late Chilean president and notorious Socialist being the "good guy." Adapted from an Italian novel by Domitilla Calamai, this delightful debut feature from Julie Gavras (daughter of filmmaker Costa-Gavras) observes a comfy bourgeois couple (Julie Depardieu and Stefano Accorsi) in early-1970s Paris and their abrupt ideological awakening to Communist militancy through daughter Anna's curious, opinionated, innocently conservative viewpoint. Unforced in its tenderness and wit, the film lightly addresses the era's incendiary revolutions through the girl's developing filters without oversimplifying the complex politics. Gavras' style is already as assured as her father's, and her ability to balance the audience's understanding of grown-up beliefs with that of a rapidly maturing girl is deft. However, the real treasure here is newcomer Kervel, a child superstar in the making. Watch her expressions change as she's taught about abortion; to someone who still refers to genitals as either "dickies" or "duckies," hers is a realization made all the more mind-blowing through subtlety.
Kervel: a superstar in the making.
Runs Fri., Oct. 19–Thurs., Oct. 25, at Varsity. Not rated. 99 minutes.