Thursday, August 21, 2014

Movies where child actors shouldn't watch their own performances

"You said 'fuck.'"

Those words -- hilariously spoken by a five-year-old Jonathan Lipnicki, in hushed tones of shock over Jerry Maguire's potty mouth -- give a perfect encapsulation of how child actors must often grow up on screen before they would naturally grow up in real life. Of course it's funny to hear such a young child drop an F-bomb, just as it's funny to hear 12-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz say far worse than that in Kick-Ass. But one has to wonder if there is a toll to be taken on the actor him or herself.

Those roles are essentially lead roles, which means that the actors (or at least the actors' parents) have signed off on the potential premature warping of their minds (or their children's minds). But what about children who are essentially extras, who just want to see how they did that time those nice people showed up with those cameras?

I've seen two such movies in the past week, but I'll start with the one that serves as perhaps a more stark example of that idea.

Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue is the Warmest Color is a warm, humanistic and believable coming-of-age story that just so happens to run for three hours and feature some hardcore pornography. A typical movie it is not.

However, like many typical movies, it has some scenes featuring children. The main character, Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), is a school teacher, after all. They may not be necessary scenes, as they don't contribute to the plot -- an attribute they share in common with most of the film's scenes. It's an atmospheric film, a character study in the truest sense of that phrase.

It may just be that the French are less hung up on stuff like this than we are, but I have to wonder if the parents of those kids showed them this movie. There's a decent buffer between any scenes of kindergartners waltzing around and any scenes of graphic cunnilingus, but still. I suppose those parents could just focus on those individual scenes, being sure to know all the correct minute markers. And if the kids wanted to watch the rest? "It's a boring adult movie, honey," the parents might say. "Besides, it's three hours long."

And continuing the porn theme, the movie I saw last night, Nymphomaniac: Volume I, is different in the sense of having a lot fewer child actors -- really, it's only the main character Joe (seen above as embodied by Charlotte Gainbsourg) at a younger age, and one of her friends. Those girls might fall into the category of professional actors like Lipnicki and Moretz. But the images in this movie are a fair bit more psychologically scarring than those in Blue -- especially, I expect, as things move on to Volume II.

There may have been no tricks to keeping the content secret this time. As those girls are seen pleasuring themselves by sliding around on a wet bathroom floor, I guess they pretty much had to be told what the movie was about.

What, Vance? You saw one of the most controversial films of the year, and all we get is this short little post about whether the underage actors should be able to watch their own performances?

Yeah, maybe. I had a bad night's sleep and don't have the energy for a screed against Lars von Trier today (if you want some sense of my impressions of the movie).

I suppose it's better for kids to be exposed to sex than to be exposed to excessive decapitations and dismemberments. The kids in these movies might do better than the young girls who appeared in this past season of The Walking Dead, for example.

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