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The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

Director:
Nicolas Gessner
COUNTRY
Canada/France
GENRE
Drama/Mystery/Romance
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Den lille piken nederst i veien
RUNNING TIME
100 minutes
Producer:
Zev Braun
Screenwriter (based on his novel):
Laird Koenig


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Rynn Jacobs Jodie Foster
Frank Hallet Martin Sheen
Mario Scott Jacoby
Mrs. Hallet Alexis Smith
Officer Miglioriti Mort Shuman

 

Review

As refreshing as thirty year old films come, made at a time when artistic freedom was not only valued in Hollywood, but all but the norm. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is a film deriving from genre conventions, but made free from these rules. It is a film about moral issues, but completely free of moralizing. And it's a film about exploitation, but without being exploitative - almost. (Because the talk of the town was 13-year-old Jodie Foster's butt, which was really her 20-year-old sister's butt. This is a discussion about film production, however, not the artwork itself, and thus largely irrelevant - especially 35 years later).

The real relevance here lies in the film's two atypical approximations of standards; one formal, one thematic. The former concerns how the film uses the typical build-up and expectations of the horror genre to create a tension which is never released as expected in this genre. This gives the film a level and type of suspense which sets it apart and gives it its own, vibrant identity; an eerie mystery with integrity. The latter concerns how the film treats the title character (who is brilliantly and maturely portrayed by Jodie Foster): like an adult in every respect; precisely in order to contrast and thereby slightly criticize (or at least question) the society's perception of her. How can a 13-year-old girl live alone? The society treats this as a deviation; the film itself makes no fuss about it, handles it with face value. And this conflict gives The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane a relevance which is not an ounce reduced today. The sensible direction by Nicolas Gessner adds to the effect, and so does the whole-hearted performances by young Scott Jacoby as the boyfriend, and Martin Sheen as the creepy guy next door.

 

Copyright 26.9.2012 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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