Style trumps substance in "Lou!" the self-consciously quirky feature version of Julien Neel's popular French comic book and animated TV series. For anyone who's not a Francophone tween girl, the film likely will be a tedious, precious exercise in indulgence.
Lola Lasseron plays the 12-year-old title character who lives with her introverted, child-like single mother (an unrecognizable Ludivine Sagnier) in a meticulously art-directed pack rat's paradise of an apartment.
While Lou and her best friend, Mina (Eden Hoch), spend their days making outlandish videos or pining over boys, her reclusive mom appears to do even less, aside from occasionally helping out at the local Chinese restaurant.
Adapting and directing the material himself, Neel works overtime to ensure the super-saturated color palette pops in every scene, but it would have been nice had he also paid attention to the flimsy, episodic storyline.
Although it's amusing to see the usually sultry Sagnier hiding behind unflattering brown bangs, an owlish pair of glasses and oversize sweaters, as well as the great Nathalie Baye clearly savoring the role of her awful mother, the effect proves fleeting.
With or without its exclamation mark, "Lou!" is overlong and under-plotted.
MPAA rating: None. In French with subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills. Also on VOD.