There’s something about whimsicality that lends itself to French cinema. Julien Neel’s Lou! is the perfect epitome of a production that if American, would be deemed overtly saccharine, and unbearably ‘kooky’ at times. However there’s a certain charm to French movies, a sincerity and lack of contrivance that lets it off the hook in films such as this. Though be warned, while this feature may not offend you as such, by the time it has finished you do feel like you’ve downed an entire packet of popping candy and washed it down with cherryade.

Newcomer Lola Lasseron plays Lou, a teenage girl who lives at home with her offbeat mother (Ludivine Sagnier), in somewhat unconventional surroundings, as a pair that appreciate the more peculiar side to life. However as single life starts to get the better of her mother, Lou takes it upon herself to find her a new partner – and sets her sights on their new neighbour Richard (Kyan Khojandi). In the meantime, Lou has romantic woes of her own, hoping to finally buck up the courage and start speaking to Tristan (Joshua Mazé), the boy of her dreams.

This colourful, vibrant piece bears a resemblance to Amélie in its visual experience, set in the real world but is treated like a magical kingdom of sorts, surreal and fantastical. But to counteract the luminous and grandiose aesthetic, this picture is grounded by a relatively subtle, understated narrative, focusing on a mother and her daughter and their relationship with one another. The themes we explore are that of growing up and discovering love, rarely deviating away from such a notion (ignore the irritating animated interludes, if you can).

It’s also refreshing to have a picture made up predominantly of a female cast, with other supporting roles for Lou’s close friends, and grandmother – played by Nathalie Baye. The real star of the show is Lasseron though, in what is a truly confident, accomplished performance, as a young actress with a lot of natural charisma. However the picture does lose its way a little as we progress towards the closing stages when our characters all revel in a bout of happiness. For some reason this feature works a lot better when they’re all feeling hapless and downbeat. Bah humbug.