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French kiss

Get A Way/Cavalcades

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In an age when independent film is so often desperately ironic and hip, it's thrilling to see a film as winsome, lighthearted and sweet as the French feature Get A Way/Cavalcades. French cinema today seems dominated by grim stories of a desperate working-class and immigrant life, but this film by Noah Nuer about the ability of friendship to change your life gazes over its shoulder at the formative years of the French New Wave and a cinema that exuded spirited energy and imagination.

A hip gay man named Didier and pretty young college student Anne forge a magical friendship following a random encounter on a Paris street. One minute Anne is mistaking Didier's stare for a sexual leer and smashing her breasts angrily against his windshield, daring him to objectify her. The next he is running into her bicycle in a nearly disastrous collision. At some point in the course of this angry first encounter, the pair back off and laugh over their rage. Together they rise above their individual problems, offering an alternative view of the other's life. Didier helps Anne mend her broken relationship with her terminally disappointed parents, and Anne helps Didier break through to his demanding sister and homophobic father.

If it all sounds too calculated and issue-oriented, it's not. Director Nuer has an exceptionally light touch and conveys the spirits of two people recharged like childhood playmates by the subversive presence of another. They breeze around Paris, deflecting homophobic thugs by feigning hot sex in a bathroom and forge a plan to help Didier's mother move out of her apartment.

Bursting with freshness and energy, Get A Way is a charmingly freeform, high- spirited story of friendship told in the breezy manner of Truffaut and Rohmer. And like the brilliant New Wave films it draws so much inspiration from, Get A Way is not all lighthearted -- there is a smart observation at the core of the film, about how perspective changes everything, and how subjective and flexible reality can be.

Get A Way/Cavalcades screens June 5 at 2:30 p.m. and June 6 at 9:30 p.m. at Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24.

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