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Girls Can't Swim (2002)

Isild Le Besco , Karen Alyx , Anne-Sophie Birot  |  NR |  DVD
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Isild Le Besco, Karen Alyx, Pascale Bussières, Pascal Elso, Marie Rivière
  • Directors: Anne-Sophie Birot
  • Writers: Anne-Sophie Birot, Christophe Honoré
  • Producers: Brigitte Faure, Philippe Jacquier, Yvon Crenn
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: September 24, 2002
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • ASIN: B00006FD9Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,610 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Girls Can't Swim" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

For years, teenagers Gwen and Lise have enjoyed spending their summer vacations together on the Brittany coast, but this summer is different. Gwen's newfound interest in the opposite sex has caused a rift between the two, leading both girls to reexamine their friendship.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
81 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passionate, believable, performances; no ending. September 29, 2002
I'm frequently impressed at how well French filmmakers capture the tumultuous emotions of adolescence. While most American films try for "popcorn pulp" treatments of teenage life - light, cliched situations played out by kids who seem to have been cast for how well they'd grace the cover of Seventeen or YM Magazines rather than for any acting talent - Girls Can't Swim (or Les Filles Ne Savent Pas Nager, as the French call it) offers serious explorations of the minds and passions of its two fifteen-year-old protagonists, played with intense passion and sincerity by its stars. The basic premise is nothing new: Gwen and Lise have grown up best of friends, and Lise and her family spend every summer vacation at the beach town where Gwen lives. But this summer, Gwen is less inclined to spend time with Lise as she is with the local boys, who are eager to take advantage in her newfound interest in sex. Lise, whose estranged father has recently died, begins replacing Gwen as favorite in the eyes of Gwen's unemployed father. And the intimate friendship they have treasured all their lives unravels with each new conflict.
Visually, the movie is absolutely beautiful. The acting by the two stars is superb, and the characters they play are beautifully developed - fully believable adolescents. Isild Le Besco deftly captures the desperation behind Gwen's freewheeling and promiscuous experimentations with sex, and Karen Alyx infuses Lise with an almost dangerous, introverted fire, remeniscent of Melanie Lynskey in Heavenly Creatures. Many of the supporting roles were very well-played too, especially Sandrine Blancke as Lise's older sister Vivianne and Pascal Elso as Gwen's father Alain. And unlike the vast majority of cinema I've seen, this film makes a marked distinction between sex and nudity.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars French movies, got to love them July 22, 2003
I do own this film and I bought it after renting it for it's bizarre, unique plot that comes across as outright laughable sometimes. This is a coming of age film about two friends: a promiscuos teenager named Gwen who seems to wear the same pair of pants throughout the entire movie and her friend Lise.
They visit each other every summer and throughout the rest of the year they carry on a close correspondence. Lise has just bought a new bathing suit and is planning her trip back when tragedy strikes and her father dies. The bathing suit, I think is supposed to symbolize her entrance into womanhood, but unfortunately this bathing suit is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.
Her and Gwen begin to realize they are very different. First of all, Gwen likes sex, really likes it. She is caught in "the act" at least twice. Lise is disappointed because of how things have changed and she begins to bond instead with Gwen's father, which causes an even bigger rift between them. The film ends on such a laughably bizarre note that I had to give it kudos, because I didn't think it could get any more absurd.
If you buy this movie, it works as a coming of age film, even though it is a little melodramatic. Also, you need to take it with a grain of salt. I liked this movie because the plot was so stupid at times that I found it incredibly amusing. It is another one of those famous french movies, you know, with the 13-15 year old girl getting naked and demanding that a man, often twice her age, satisfy her. This film also does have some serious undertones, and if they had maybe just taken the melodrama down a couple of notches, the message would be a lot clearer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK film October 6, 2009
This is a film that I can't decide, did I hate it, or did I love it? Maybe it was just an OK film, nothing special, nothing horrible, mostly forgettable.

Girls Can't Swim is a coming of age film. Gwen is a flighty promiscuous girl. Her friend Lise is the level headed one, the serious one. The two families spent their summer vacation at the same town by the beach (ocean or Mediterranean, no matter). Except this year, Lise stays home, there are problems in Lise's family. The film is set before the era of the cell phone, internet, or the Euro; so the two girls write letters and call eachother occasionally on the phone. Gwen misses Lise, and in her egocentric way keeps trying to convince Lise to be with her. In the meantime, Gwen wastes no time experimenting with the local boys. There's a ton of odd dynamics with the parents. It's clear that Gwen has some deep feeling for Lise, but yet that's not the central point of the film. The film tries to display all the difficulties of two young women growing up, they act like children, then adults, and then children again.

The film has the feeling of a 1980's French film as opposed to the 2000's when it was shot. There aren't many clues that place the film in a particular year. I didn't find the scenery all that gorgeous, it was nice, but nothing spectacular. The setting is more off the beaten path of summer homes on the beach, so the town is a bit tired, the beaches aren't packed full, the houses are a bit run down and small. For me, it had a gritty not so clean feel.

I have seen several Islid Le Besco films, she is an alluring actress that plays Gwen. It might be the role, but I just did not care for her.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Girls Can Swim
This movie is a typical French film; with down and out parents and depressed kids and great scenery. Read more
Published on February 22, 2011 by Rick The Hick
3.0 out of 5 stars Two-thirds of a great film
We begin with Gwen (Isild Le Besco), a 15 or 16-year-old girl living in a precarious situation - financially and emotionally, with regards both to her parents and her string of... Read more
Published on November 9, 2009 by Muzzlehatch
2.0 out of 5 stars Another overrated, underachieving, unimpressive French film
This movie epitomizes the sub-genre of "French films". Which is to say it engenders every tired stereotype of what makes some French films either unwatchable or unenjoyable (the... Read more
Published on April 18, 2007 by B. Etnyre
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the better French films I've seen
This is one of the better films I,ve seen from France. Romance was a good film with awful dialog, this films' dialog was some what better. The story was good although tragic. Read more
Published on March 9, 2006 by Charlie Spivey
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of time
It said it was about girls going to a nudist beach.They went the beach for about five minutes and it was a topless beach. Read more
Published on October 9, 2005 by J. D. Cotton
2.0 out of 5 stars Irritating and unorigional
I don't remember seeing Isild Le Besco in any other films, but she does look a bit familiar. If I have seen her elsewhere, it must have been in a role that she performed with much... Read more
Published on January 14, 2005 by J. Wyman
1.0 out of 5 stars Superficial
Whatever happened to the glory days of French cinema like Truffaut, Godard etc, now replaced by unimaginative "realists" of the type represented in this movie. Read more
Published on January 21, 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Haven't I seen this somewhere before?
A French coming-of-age art film that I rented while on vacation. Despite rave reviews all over the packaging, this story of two moody teenage girls growing apart as sexuality... Read more
Published on November 1, 2002 by DJ Joe Sixpack
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasstical
This movie was awesome to the max, dude. It totally rocked my ... world. 'Cause I was always under the impression that girls COULD swim....but now I know they can not. Read more
Published on September 16, 2002 by Inigo Montoya
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