A series of yakking, lipsticked cartoon mouths open La Vie au Ranch, a film that puts too much faith in the appeal of its garrulous, aimless leads. Sophie Letourneur's first feature, screening as part of BAM's "Salut les Jeunes! Young French Cinema" series, centers on a trio of Left Bank twentysomething women—housemates and university students who appear to have no responsibilities beyond texting and nursing hangovers. Sharing writing duties with Delphine Agut, Letourneur, a few years shy of 30 when she made the film, drew from her own early 20s for the script, which was also shaped by the interplay among her cast, nonprofessionals who are friends in real life. The result is less psychodrama than fitfully interesting sociology, the film's dialogue often sounding like a transcription of Facebook-status updates. Only one character, Pam (Sarah-Jane Sauvegrain, who could pass for Jeanne Balibar's kid sister), seen briefly at her ailing granny's bedside, appears to have a fleeting concern for anyone outside herself. The extreme narcissism is age-appropriate, but is the utter lack of curiosity? Despite a spot-on scene of two guys at a café trying to one-up each other about Hong Sang-soo films, Pam and her pals—unlike, say, Lena Dunham's orbit—seem to have never engaged in another rite of passage: reading a book.
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