Title: A Little Romance
Country: USA, France
Language: English, French, Italian
Genre: Romance, Adventure, Comedy
Director: George Roy Hill
Writer: Allan Burns
based on the novel by Claude Klotz
Music: Georges DeLerue
Cinematography: Pierre-William Glenn
George Roy Hill’s charming puppy romance takes place in Paris and centres on a 13-year-old French boy Daniel Michon (Bernard) and a 13-year-old American girl Lauren (Lane, in her film debut), both precocious and sensitive, Daniel lives with his negligent father, he is a frequent cinema-goer and well versed in Hollywood pictures, while Lauren is from a rich family, her mother Kay (Kellerman) has been married for a third time with a gentle-hearted entrepreneur Richard (Hill), but her heart doesn’t stop her from flirting with the movie director George de Marco (Dukes), who is shooting a new picture with Broderick Crawford in the city of romance.
Daniel meets Lauren in the movie set, his opening line is “call me Bogie!”. They find each other quite compatible, both are old beyond their years, and too smart among their peers, if the pompous discussions about their high IQs and Heidegger fail to put you off, the film will turns you head over heels. Hill grants generous close-ups of Bernard’s charming smile, so one can forget about the bugging fact that a French boy is able to speak such fluent English simply by watching English films (at a time almost all of them are dubbed in French). Nevertheless, the meet-cute works, especially when Julius Edmond Santorin (Olivier, juggles with accents) comes on board, he seems to be a well-bred flâneur, old but sprightly, completely catches Lauren’s attention with his yarns, which makes Daniel expose his shortcomings: impatience, jealousy and lack of respect towards the elder, and later in the horse race, his conceit affirms that gambling is never a good recreation no matter how whip-smart you are. Still, they are the cutest underage couple to a man.
Soon, with Julius as their chaperone, they embark on an adventure to Venice, to consummate their declaration of true love, sharing a kiss beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset. En route, a chain of mishaps emerge, money is lost, lies are divulged, parents are involved and Julius’ real identity makes them the target of police force, both from France and Italy. Will they stick to the original plan? The answer is a big YES.
Self-references of his most well-known works BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) and THE STING (1973) aside, George Roy Hill has never surpassed himself with his later output, but thanks to the unbelievably gratifying story and the two adorable leads, A LITTLE ROMANCE is undeniably endearing, in spite of a fews hiccups: the characterisations of the minor roles are problematic, the ignorant American tourists, a chauvinistic French policier and his violence-exercising Italian analogue, a money-grubbing gondoliere, all too generic and vapid; and one of the biggest mystery remains – what does Richard see in Kay as the woman he desires?
Georges DeLerue pellucid score wins him a well-earned Oscar, and the original author Claude Klotz (under his nom de plume Patrick Cauvin) has published a sequel in 2001, tells the story after the finale, but with Sir Olivier has been long gone, Thelonious Bernard does’t pursue an acting career afterward and Diane Lane now in her fifties, a brand-new remake sounds more apposite than a cast-shifting sequel, after all it is about love in its uncontaminated and purest state, something we all need to be reminded from time to time surviving in this dreadful world.