At this point, the gifted French director Diane Kurys (Entre Nous, Peppermint Soda) appears to be spending her entire career making wistful memory films about her childhood. Her latest coming-of-age movie, C’est La Vie, is about Frédérique (Julie Bataille, who suggests a nymphet Laura San Giacomo), a 13-year-old prankster who spends a summer at the beach making mischief, edging toward her first romance, and coming to terms with her parents’ impending divorce. Frédérique’s mother (Nathalie Baye) keeps slipping off to be with her lover. Then the girl’s father (Richard Berry) shows up full of impacted anger and pride, and we watch the collapsing marriage through Frédérique’s stricken eyes. Kurys, as always, has a wonderfully fluid anecdotal style. If this were her first film, we could celebrate the arrival of a promising new talent. Yet by the second half, C’est La Vie has turned into a shameless retread of the director’s past work — a cozy, simplified version of Entre Nous. It’s hard to shake the feeling that Kurys, coming off her disastrous 1987 English-language production, A Man in Love, has retreated into safe waters. B
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