One of the main things that makes us human is our ability to know we make mistakes and that we live with them (and hopefully learn from then). Au Revoir Les Enfants (which means “Goodbye, Children”) features a mistake that is costly to a certain character.
The movie takes place in France, during the second World War at a boarding school run by Priests. One of the main students we meet is Julien Quentin (Gaspard Manesse), a good mannered kid who does well in school, but is ok with smoking in secret at recess. He meets a new kid named Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto). Before we learn Jean’s secret, the movie is smart enough to have some friction between the two (one of the first things Julien mentions is not to mess with him).
One of the best things about the movie is the atmosphere. The kids actually ACT like kids (which sadly means they fight and swear sometimes, and talk about sex every now and then in a crude way). While watching the movie, I felt like I was reading a good book required by a middle school English teacher (or social studies).
Parents, that being said, the movie is rated PG, and while it has a lot of crude talking, I think this movie would be ok for anyone who is in middle school or older (mind you, they would have to not mind reading subtitles, which is really not that hard to do). It would also be rather nourishing to them, I feel.
The movie is supposed to be based off of the director’s (Louis Malle) real life experience as a child. That said, I would think another title would be Au revoir, l’enfance, or “Goodbye, Childhood”.
Overall: Four and a Half Stars **** 1/2