5 user 1 critic

La femme enfant (1980)

Elisabeth, a 11 year old girl, visits Marcel, a mute gardener every morning with whom she shares a very particular friendship. During three years, their bond grows stronger, as Marcel seems to be the only person she can connect to.


Raphaële Billetdoux (dialogue), Raphaële Billetdoux (screenplay)


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Cast overview:
Klaus Kinski ... Marcel
Pénélope Palmer ... Élisabeth
Michel Robin ... Le père
Hélène Surgère ... La mère
Ary Aubergé Ary Aubergé ... L'épicier
Georges Lucas Georges Lucas ... Le curé


A small village in the north of France. Elizabeth, almost thirteen, is the daughter of the hairdressers of the town. For more than three years she has been secretly visiting Marcel, a forty-year-old mute man, who works as a caretaker at a castle, and whom the villagers call simple-minded. They have their rites, their games, their habits- their quarrels too, quickly forgotten and forgiven. Their relation is secret and strange, she is being in turn authoritarian and submissive. But, this little game becomes heavy while the girl becomes a young girl. One day, Elisabeth, who plays the organ at the church, passes the competition of the conservatory brilliantly. She leaves the village without regret, while Marcel can not bear her absence.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

organ | church | gardener | mute man | barn | See All (12) »






France | West Germany



Release Date:

3 December 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Kindfrau - Stumme Liebe See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)
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User Reviews

A lovely, bittersweet story
25 December 1999 | by AldanoliSee all my reviews

The protagonist is a musically-gifted young woman (hence, a "woman-child") who is an outcast both from her cold, uncaring family and from her village. She shares an unusual friendship with an older man (Klaus Kinski), also an outcast.

Comparisons between this film and, say, "Lolita" are inevitable, because of the characters' age difference and because of one scene where she dances costumed like a gypsy, to the seeming delight of Kinski's character. There is also one scene (filmed tastefully from the back) where she climbs into the bath while he is in the same room.

But to focus on these elements is to miss the point of the film -- that, because they are estranged from everyone else, they must draw strength from one another. Kudos to writer-director Raphaelle Billetdoux for this lovely, bittersweet film about the loneliness and pain of growing up; of being different; and, quite simply, of having to live; beautifully photographed, with a vivid performance from the young actress and an unusually sensitive performance by Kinski as the girl's companion and confidante.

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