A semi-scandal upon its release in 1978, this Louis Malle film is set in a turn-of-the-century, New Orleans bordello and focuses on a girl named Violet (then-child actress Brooke Shields) whose imminent twelfth birthday signals her "readiness" to become a career prostitute. Typical of Malle, the outwardly forbidden nature of the story and relationships within are morally obscured by the immediate experiences and unqualified urges of the characters. The little heroine brings a distinctly youthful and innocent view to the milieu, and the introduction of a photographer (Keith Carradine)--who eventually marries Violet--in the brothel carries the suggestion that there is art and beauty to be explored there. Susan Sarandon is beguiling as Violet's mother, who seems to unfold in the cameraman's presence. The film moves a little stiffly, a little slowly, possibly from a heavy emphasis on period art direction and Sven Nykvist's moody if gorgeous photography. --Tom Keogh
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Top Customer Reviews
Brook performance literally carries this movie. Yes, the movie is quite explicit about the business of prostitution during that time, but it is never exploited and gives one the sense of how it really was, and what might happen to children born into prostitution. Malle's dispassionate take on all of this outraged viewers a quarter-century ago, but it all seems rather tame today. Perhaps too tame.........
Malle's restraint is so great at times that one wishes he'd pushed the envelope even more. But he got an amazing performance out of Shields, one that she never topped in her career as an actress -- Violet is a mesmerizing combination of innocent child and sly young woman, and that we never see her as a victim is to both her credit and Malle's.Read more ›
I never felt this movie glorified child prostitution. It told the story of the way things were back then. Life now is much different than it was in the early party of the last century and I think this film shows the ugliness of the brothels of that era. Poor Violet having her virginity auctioned and really not knowing any better. When the creepy old guy pays the money, it made me feel sick to my stomach. I guess that was the point of the movie. It made me feel so many things on so many different levels.
All in all, it was a movie that made me think. It was also beautifully shot and very realistic to the time it portrayed. The costumes, the music and the setting were breathtaking. I definitely thought about it after the film was over.
A great film but one that is definitely not for everyone.
Malle always kept in the deepest of his soul the childhood memories , and this is a direct heritage from the French Mew Wave. And this statement is supported by two essential films of him *Zazie dans le metro* from 1961 and *Au revoir les enfants* (one of his four masterpieces) from 1986 who deserved him an Academy Award as best foreigner film.
This film literally made grow up to Susan Sarandon as a top actress in a demanding role. Jodie Foster made this role without too much effort , probably due her before playing in Taxi Driver.
The script is astonishing and surrounded of a bitter atmosphere.
One little gem and a cult movie from this brilliant french director.
Most recent customer reviews
This tim created a lot of controversy when released. Primarily due to the nudity of its adolescent star, Brooke Shields, and the undercurrent of pedophilia, and the overall... Read morePublished 21 months ago by tomtom
The movie was made in 1978 but the setting is in the early 20th century in the red light district of New Orleans. Read morePublished on June 5 2014 by Dan
Louis Malle n’a pas peur de la controverse. Avec le film « Le souffle au cœur », 1971, qui évoque l’inceste entre une mère et son fils et le film « La Petite » qui... Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2014 by depadou_amadou
The only reason this film has so many stars is because there are sexual perverts out there rating it. Read morePublished on June 6 2011 by Da Readah
The year is 1917, during the last months of legal prostitution in New Orleans. Hattie (Susan Sarandon) is a prostitute at the home of Madame Nell. Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2007 by Francesca Jourdan
The best part about this movie is Brooke Shields. Her beauty is obvious even at that age. She had some nude scenes. Read morePublished on June 24 2004 by citan-uzuki
this movie caused a scandal as it should for having a young nude brooke shields if u get beyond that its a sad look at child prostitution in the late 1800s brooke shields plays... Read morePublished on May 25 2004 by mike g