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Love Like Poison Review

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Anna (Augarde), a young French teenager, comes home from boarding school to find that her father has left. With her mother finding solace in the company of local priest, she spends her time with the grandfather she dotes on. Then the free-spirited Pierre (Youen Leboulanger-Gourvil) arrives on the scene and her life changes.

★★★★★

Taking its French title – Un Poison Violent — from a Serge Gainsbourg song, the feature debut of Abidjan-born director Katell Quillévéré is a beguiling coming-of-age drama about a 14 year-old girl, Anna (Clara Augarde), whose impending confirmation ceremony coincides with her parents’ separation, and an equally personal conflict between her Catholic faith and nascent sexuality. Setting up more subplots than it is possible to fully develop within the slender running time, Love Like Poison sometimes feels like the pilot for a new TV series, albeit one lacking in externalised drama. Nevertheless, it is beautifully made and performed — especially by newcomer Augarde, the serendipitous discovery of an open casting call.

Like Stealing Beauty awash with Catholic guilt, it's a charming coming-of-age tale that packs plenty into its short runtime.