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Love Play

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“The Lost Film of Jean Seberg” it says on the cassette box, and in fact this scratchy, black-and-white curiosity plays like a long-missing bulletin from Planet Ooh-La-La. Released in 1961 as La Récréation, Love Play catches the wayward Iowa beauty two years after she helped kick-start the French New Wave in Godard’s Breathless. If the 23-year-old actress is patently unbelievable as a 16-year-old schoolgirl, the beguiling erotic nimbus that surrounds her makes cavils beside the point. It’s harder, unfortunately, to overlook the amateur direction of Seberg’s former husband, attorney Francois Moreuil, or the dreadfully un-PC dialogue that leading man Christian Marquand spouts (“Rape? That’s a woman’s invention”). Best to view this as a weirdly alluring moment in a career that would ultimately spin out of control. B-