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A young boy who worships all things American comes of age in a small village nearby a U.S. military base. Patrick is living a pleasant French life surrounded by a happy family and a lovely girlfriend when one day, literally by accident, he meets an American soldier (James Gandolfini) who changes his life forever. The soldier introduces the young boy to American music, fun, freedom and women. Under the soldier's tutelage, the boy follows his dream of becoming a drummer and falling in love with an American girl (Alicia Silverstone). Patrick's family and ex-girlfriend witness Patrick's heartbreak when he is faced with the reality that there is a price to pay with some American ways.
This little film is a bit schizophrenic and a little too staged for comfort. We are in post war France, but we are also in a little American bubble as GI's bring American culture to a place that doesn't need it. There's a little teen love story mixed in here, but overall I wasn't entertained.
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During the first fifteen years following the war, France was poor, desoriented, and lacking in that strong Gallic Spirit which they have shown before and after that miserable patch in their history. Not knowing what direction to take, the young looked to the freer and more varied directions offered by American tastes. They becamed enamored of and bewildered by American Jazz, films, cars, electronics, dating styles, and our puzzling multicultural society. Food and electronics were severely short in France at this time. A lot of this treasure trove was available at the US Army Personnel PX, and being taken there in a shopping spree was a magic trip through Vanity Fair for the much more restricted French. Our young protagonist finds out much to his chagrin, that all that prosperity and generocity do not necessarily translate in happiness. As the movie ends, we sense that our hearbroken seventeen year old will be all right at the end, as indeed, the whole of France did, after all pain of mourning and hunger were over.