The beguiling, precocious Suzanne (Bonnaire), a fifteen-year-old Parisian girl, escapes her stifling home life via promiscuous behavior with a revolving door of boyfriends. Her domineering, pre-occupied father (Pialat) has an ambiguous relationship with her, at once tender and stern. When he finally abandons the family, her mother (Ker) tailspins into angry depression, and her portly older brother (Besnehard) takes it out on Suzanne with jealous rants and enraged beatings. Suzanne reacts by seeking solace in fleeting liasons, but she's unable to find the stability she needs from the various young men in her life.
Considered France's answer to John Cassavetes, director Pialat favored naturalistic acting, improvisation and finding the truth of the moment. Thus, watching this dysfunctional family drama is inevitably unnerving, as it carries the sting of truth, of real events unfolding in real time. Take note of the opening shots of Suzanne in a skimpy, windblown dress at the prow of a yacht, blithely unaware of the effect her body has on men, even her own brother. Bonnaire, in her first film, explodes off the screen with a potent mix of burgeoning sexuality and childlike innocence; but it's the tender yearning this gifted actress projects that makes Suzanne such a tragic figure, and this film such a memorable drama.