A Little Romance was a funny little romance about a couple of early teenagers bonding in France. Serving as George Roy Hill’s follow-up to the legendary Slap Shot, it’s hard to imagine such a severe left turn in modern film. Predating Rich Kids by four months, it’s a much more emotionally mature take on one of the creepiest sub genre of the 1970s. Movies about young kids developing mature emotional and near sexual feelings for each other.
George Roy Hill remains one of my favorite directors. Even in this film about romance and little kids finding love, he never shies away from his accidental auteurism. From using his work and beloved films to frame Thelonious Bernard’s love of idealized emotion, Hill never glances away from the heart of this film. Emotionally immature types trying to give meaning to a foreign world.
The late 70s output from Orion Pictures is such an oddity. A Little Romance was the studio’s first release, quickly followed by a two-three other films that dropped in quick release. Given the nature of the movies being released by Warner Brothers and related outlets, it didn’t make sense that Orion got this one. But, I’m fascinated by the choice and what it meant for the little studio that would be gone within the next 20 years.
Little Diane Lane made her film debut here and she brings the goods. While remaining one of America’s secret acting talents, it’s not hard to see why Coppola would shortly take her under his directorial wing. Young talent is hard to develop, unless when it’s natural. Playing off legends like Sally Kellerman and Sir Laurence Olivier is no easy task. Yet, Lane makes it look effortless in A Little Romance.
France in cinema was going through a change at the time. Coming off the heels of Truffaut’s Day for Night, we see a Paris transformed by the end of the 1970s. It’s less romantic and more industrial. People search for the deep meaning of old, but everyone is almost always defined by their job. It doesn’t matter how many bicyclists you throw in the mix, things have changed.
Warner Archive brings a Blu-ray release that has been due for a bit. If I’m not mistaken, this hasn’t had a proper release since the days of Snapper Case DVDs. While we’re not getting any special features, Warner Archive continues to do what I love. They simply kill it on the presentation. Rich 1080p transfers in proper original aspect ratio coupled with DTS-HD master audio tracks using original audio elements. Warner Archive releases are must-haves for all fans of classic cinema.