Following in the tradition of many coming-of-age movies, “Cavale” features what seems to be the requisite beautifully shot underwater scene. Like the heroines of “Booksmart,” “Lady Bird” and “The Edge of Seventeen” before her, Kathy (Lisa Viance) is filmed meaningfully beneath the surface of a pool, allowing first-time director Virginie Gourmel to capture a stunning moment.
But what sets this Belgian drama apart from other films about teenage girls is the extraordinary circumstances Kathy finds herself in — and what she does to make her world even wilder. Even the pool scene lacks the chill, fun vibe you’ve seen before. Kathy has been committed to an in-patient psychiatric facility against her will, but she doesn’t stay there long. With her roommates Nabila (Yamina Zaghouani) and Carole (Noa Pellizari), she soon escapes and drives across France to find her estranged father.
“Cavale” quickly evolves into a road movie, with the episodic adventures of the girls revealing their character along the way. Micha Wald’s script, however, goes in unexpected directions, and not all the developments feel earned. “Cavale” takes a hard left in its final act that will leave some viewers with whiplash.
Although there are some tonal and plot issues, Gourmel’s directorial debut finely captures the dangerous energy of being a teen, especially one who struggles to deal with her life. “Cavale” is an imperfect film, but it’s evidence that Gourmel will be a filmmaker to watch.
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Starts Nov. 29, Laemmle Glendale