Pretty Baby

Director: Louis Malle
Year Released: 1978
Rating: 2.5

When compared to as complex a work as Nabokov's timeless Lolita, Malle's film doesn't seem to have much thought in its head, so to compensate he tries to dispense with any kind of morality (aside from the auction scene) and tell the 'story' as it is. But that's just it - there isn't much of a plot, and the character development is minimal: I expected some sort of statement about the effects of introducing a child (Brooke Shields) to the realm of sex and the ensuing inner turmoil in her being trapped in this in-between state where she feels she's an adult but is still only a kid. I expected some sort of statement about the incompatibility of any potential relationship between an immature, irritating child and a significantly more worldly man (Keith Carradine plays real-life photographer E. J. Bellocq) but they argue and argue and that's about it (I half expected Carradine's character to get punched in the face when people found out he married a little girl). In fact, by the end, little has really changed: Shields' character is taken away to be educated, Bellocq is left with his camera and the prostitutes are forced to move away. Was this Malle's attempt to make Americans/general filmgoers feel less guilty about pedophilia? Or more? Was Foucault right in saying that you can't establish a proper age of consent because the child may very well desire the adult? It deserves credit for usurping any preconceived 'expectations' and for making me feel (somewhat) like a prude; it's been a long time since a movie's done that....