It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"A Little Romance" has been described as a movie about the way kids behave when adults aren't looking. I think it's quite the opposite: A movie about the way kids behave when adults are looking - and when adults are writing the dialog and directing the action, too. It gives us two movie kids in a story so unlikely I assume it was intended as a fantasy. And it gives us dialog and situations so relentlessly cute we want to squirm.
Yet I have a notion this is exactly the movie George Roy Hill wanted to make. Hill is one of the most successful directors in modern Hollywood history - his hits include "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting" - and he's great at clever stories with big stars. So of course he goes to Paris (and Verona and Venice) to film a "little" story about early adolescence, one intended to impress us with its humanity, the purity of its intentions, its natural humor.
Francois Truffaut covered this ground in "The 400 Blows," and Louis Malle in "Murmur of the Heart," and they did it by giving us characters who were seen with absolute clarity, who were no better and no worse than your usual pre-gangling 13-year-old, and who seemed plausible. "A Little Romance" would like to do that, I suspect, but it covers its bets by making its kids impossibly bright and witty and wise, and putting them in a story that not for one instant can be believed.
The boy kid is the son of a Parisian taxi driver. He is also an obsessive movie buff, and has even taught himself English by going to American movies. (I suppose one could learn English that way. If only the movies in French neighborhood theaters weren't dubbed into French). The girl kid is an American whose mother is between husbands number three and four. The two kids meet, talk solemnly about subjects big and little, and fall in love. (Both kids have IQs in the genius range, of course, which explains why they talk like fairly intelligent high school juniors.)