Review by Frank Plowright
A story about two young brothers on holiday being saddled with the daughter of a family friend, sounds like prime young adult territory, but the language alone as the boys are bullied during an early sequence indicates that’s not the case.
Antoine is thirteen, and Bastien Vivès emphasises the gulf between his age and emotional maturity and that of Hélène at just three years older. She’s glued to her phone, and at a stage where she’s aware of her sexuality, but not entirely of the effect it has on Antoine. She’s rebellious, and he’s basically well behaved, but through following her his eyes are opened to a new world. The family dynamic Antoine is used to shifts considerably, and his transition into adolescence unfurls sensitively through a succession of naturalistic glimpses into the world to come.
A curious aspect of the art is Vivès frequently not bothering with facial features, especially eyes, usually such an expressive element of visual art. It’s a technique that can work as readers project their own emotions (see A Gift for a Ghost), but here it’s hit and miss. At times the confidence Vivès has in his delicately formed postures substitutes, but on other occasions, as in the final panel of the sample page, the intention isn’t at all clear. The inconsistency irritates, but as just one aspect of such a well-observed story it’s minor.
Metaphors feature, the gradual completion of jigsaw being one, and another being Antoine’s failing attempts to draw Hélène’s portrait, never quite managing to capture her, just as his interactions with her are stumbling and lacking certainty. Antoine’s conflicting inclinations are masterfully conveyed, yet it’s also simultaneously shown that Hélène isn’t as assured as she appears to Antoine. For all the sensitivity and metaphors, though, Vivès, isn’t above some standard funny smut, cutting from a scene of fumbling sex to Antoine’s father at the barbecue asking if anyone wants a sausage.
The knowledge of transitory days having so much meaning at the time is passed on in what’s a touching and humane story, with Vivès saving a good shock for the ending. A film adaptation retitled Falcon Lake is due for summer 2022 release.