Suddenly, Martin's behaviour changes radically. He doesn't talk or laugh any more. His schoolfellows discover, that his mother died some days ago. Now he is frightened of being sent to orphanage. His schoolfellows help him to lift the situation
Young Martin Gaudinier (Copans) has more than a few problems: he is poor, comes from a single parent family, is doing badly at school, has no girlfriend, and his mother has just passed away peacefully in her sleep. It is, naturally, the latter of these tragic situations that is most pressing, as his two best friends have comfortingly regaled him with tales of just how grim life will be in the orphanage to which the authorities will now surely send him.
The solution is obvious, at least to a 12-year-old: don't tell any grown-ups she's dead, and carry on regardless. What Cross My Heart develops into from here is a gloriously black comedy for and about youngsters, made even sharper by a script that correctly assumes this young adolescent's world is entirely self-contained rather than merely relative to adults and their values, so often a frequent fault of junior dramas.
In the course of their deception, the youngsters hold a private funeral, learn to cook food stolen from their families' fridges, demonstrate a staggeringly creative flair for distracting their elders when Martin's mum is due to put in appearances and, as events progress, the lad not only does better in class but manages to fall in love.
This movie crackles with a dry throw-away wit, the performances are inspired, and even the superb climax, for once, doesn't duck out of providing a suitably I hard-hitting punch.