Rome International Film Festival

ROME -- Twenty-eight years after skyrocketing to fame in teenage comedy “The Party,” Sophie Marceau is now on the other side of the barricades, as it were. In Lisa Azeulos’ endearing and breezy comedy about high school students, “Lol,” she plays Anne, the mother of three. Her name and the fact that the young cast look like Benetton models will certainly make the film sellable worldwide. It also won’t hurt its anticipated domestic release, set for February. “Lol” also features a great soundtrack of contemporary international pop music.

Yet “Lol” is less superficial that, say, “High School Musical 3” and features enough witty jokes to keep adults entertained. It even begins with an irreverent send-up to its U.S. counterparts: Main character Lola (Christa Theret) and her friends are introduced to us in slow motion because, she says, “that’s how American babes always make their first appearance in these kinds of movies.”

The film’s title stands for the text message language prolific in today’s teen culture as well as for Lola’s nickname. Though rich and beautiful, Lol is also a typical 17-year-old, grappling with her divorced parents and the brink of adulthood, which includes heartbreak and her first experiences with sex and drug-filled parties.

Set over the course of one school year, the film’s three acts are divided into trimesters and the visuals reflect the characters’ hi-tech universe, incorporating online chats and plenty of text messages. Eye candy also abounds in the costumes and hairstyling: The hip kids are always perfectly coifed and dressed - yet the young cast gets kudos for creating characters that aren’t mere stereotypes.

Naturally, there are moments of adolescent silliness and over-the-top humor (at least for adult viewers). But “Lol” goes beyond the ups and downs of first love and mother-daughter squabbling as it casts an intelligent eye on the consequences of women’s lib.

After reading Lol’s diary, Anne suddenly realizes that it’s one thing to want to be as sexually and socially emancipated as a man and another when your daughter does. How to balance the two becomes a second storyline towards the end of the film. For as she returns to the dating scene, Anne must face her guilt over inadequately fulfilling the social roles expected of a mother and middle-aged single woman, roles she admittedly disdains.

Production companies: Pathe Renn Productions, TF1 Films Production, M6 Films.
Cast: Sophie Marceau, Christa Theret, Alexandre Astier, Jocelyn Quivrin,     
Francoise Fabian, Jeremy Kapone, Felix Moati, Christophe Bourseiller.
Director: Lisa Azuelos.
Screenwriter: Azuelos, Nans Delgado.
Producer: Romain Le Grand.
Director of photography: Nathaniel Aron.
Production designer: Yvon Fustec.
Music: Rebecca Delannet.
Costume designer: Jurgen Doering.
Editor: Stan Collet.
Sales Agent: Pathe International.
No rating, 96 minutes.