With the new resurgence of raunchy sex comedies, it's worth noting that the tradition began long before American Pie and Superbad, and even before Joysticks and Porky's. Not a comparison I was expecting to make of this masterpiece by Louis Malle, director of the tense (and previous pick) Elevator to the Gallows and the painfully sad Au Revoir Les Enfants – a film that introduced me at a young age to the atrocities of humanity … although to be fair, the film is more along the lines of a dirtier Woody Allen than anything Jason Biggs might star in.
But at heart, as the trailer proudly exclaims “This is not your papa's movie”, this is a raunchy tale of sexual awakening and adolescence, balanced gracefully with equal parts witty French sophistication, coming of age bittersweetness, and a troubling tale of incest. Yes, that too I didn't see coming and it's fair to warn you that even 36 years after its release, Murmur of the Heart is still as shocking as it is delightful – a difficult combination to pull off, but Malle manages.
The young actor, Benoit Ferreux, playing precocious Laurent is flawless and speaks volumes with one confused look; his mother, a fiery unconventional Italian babe, is handled with care by actress Lea Massari; and his two wildly devious brothers, “the idiots”, as they are referred to by their father, offer many laughs and I suggest that they may have inspired the twin Weasleys from Harry Potter.