Growing Pains

Falcon Lake

by Hope Madden

Co-writer/director Charlotte Le Bon crafts a melancholy poem to that fleeting moment of the last real summer of your childhood with her moody coming-of-age tale Falcon Lake.

Thirteen (almost 14) year-old Bastien (Joseh Engel) and his family go to visit friends on a lake for a couple of weeks over the summer. Bastien and his little brother will room with Chloe (Sara Montpetit), two years older, gorgeous, a little weird, a little bored. As Bastien tags along, Chloe is the one we see playing tug of war with adulthood.

The summer orbits these two kids, navigating the vanishing moments of childhood, blinking into the blinding future. Le Bon captures these moments perfectly, aided immeasurably by two truly wonderful performances.

Montpetit unveils something vulnerable beneath Chloe’s capricious behavior. But it’s Engel who mesmerizes. His smile, genuine as it can be, is uplifting and heartbreaking in equal measure. He punctuates a hauntingly quiet performance with bursts of joy, silliness and tenderness that make Bastien achingly lovable. But more than that, he’s authentic. As lovely and lyrical as Falcon Lake can be, rather than crafting a romantic nostalgia about innocence lost, Le Bon delivers a slice of life.

Cinematographer Kristof Brandl’s camera evokes the mood, lonesome silhouettes, isolating crowds, awkward intimacy. Le Bon exhibits a delicate if controlled touch to her tale of young love. Few topics are more oft tread in cinema, on stage, in print or in song. But Falcon Lake, though its honesty gives it the feel of familiarity, never seems tired or worn.

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