15-year old Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire) is a precocious child, living with her mother, her career-driven brother, and her sometimes overbearing father (played by Maurice Pialat). She has recently split from her boyfriend and is intent on moving from man to man in search of sexual pleasures and guardianship. When her father splits from her mother and moves out, home life becomes unbearable as her mother and brother disapprove of her lifestyle. She is most comfortable in the arms of a man, be it one of her seducers or her father. Men seems to flock to her, as she is pretty, charming and is happy to accommodate her admirers.
This is the second film that I've seen directed by French master Maurice Pialat, the other being the excellent L'Enfance Nue. They are both similar films in terms of themes and execution, and tell the familiar coming-of-age story from an original perspective. Whereas the former was a sledgehammer portrayal of a young juvenile causing havoc amongst the various foster homes he was placed, where redemption never seems possible, A Nos Amours' Suzanne is a more sympathetic lead character, and her journey is portrayed in a more subtle manner. While it would be shocking to hear of a 15 year old girl bedding a number of men, Pialat is more focused on what drives her to act this way.
She is not a tease, and she doesn't flaunt her body to anyone who will look. Instead, she seems to simply enjoy the comfort of a man. When the father moves away, her home life falls apart and her bed-mates increase. Perhaps Pialat is trying to portray the impact an absent father can have on a child, or that all women need comforting every once in a while. Or maybe this is an individual character study, with no overriding message. What it most definitely is, though, is a wonderfully acted (especially from the young Bonnaire), intelligent, and intriguing film that has Pialat's usual cold detachment alongside a certain intimacy with the lead character.