Told with fondness and precision, and set in France at the time of the IndoChina War (which later became an American problem known as the Vietnam War), this controversial feature handles teen coming-of-age, sexuality and even incest with a gentleness that disappointed the prurient and shocked the conservative. This is one of director Louis Malle's finest films: others include The Fire Within and Au Revoir Les Enfants. Laurent (Benoit Ferreux) is 14 years old and anxious to lose his virginity. However, he has a very close family circle, and, between the family and school, he is too closely watched to get anywhere. He makes the most of an opportunity to neck with the girls at his older brothers' party and later almost gets to lose his virginity in a bordello, but his boisterously drunken brothers interrupt him. His real opportunity arises while his mother takes him for a rest-cure for his heart murmur at a very conventional spa.
by Clarke Fountain synopsis