It may be a painfully obvious point, but the simplest gauge of Miss Impossible’s unassuming success is to consider all the cheap, ingratiating tics you’d see in an American version of the same material. This is a very small film buoyed by a lead character, 13-year-old Aurore (newcomer Léna Magnien), whose snark and bitterness are coping mechanisms she can barely conceal. She’s at a very pivotal age, when girls in particular are solidifying their identities and getting all sorts of horrible messages from the world around them about who they should be.
Miss Impossible (French title: Jamais contente, “never satisfied”) is about a rebel girl, someone who is all too happy to flip everyone off. But she also wants desperately to find her place in things, to fit in and be needed. This is the paradox of adolescence, and why these hormonal little tornados go from zero to rampage so easily. Deleuze plays a somewhat conventional card by allowing a new teacher (Alex Lutz) to reach Aurore with literature—the inspirational teacher trope—but again, it is handled with subtlety and self-deprecating humour. (Hollywood would’ve made this into a life-altering mentorship.)
Plus, Aurore becomes a singer in a rock band, wearing a Ramones T-shirt and penning elliptical lyrics. Self-expression and intellectualism help the wayward middle child find her focus and become a better, bolder margin-dweller. Miss Impossible is as light as cotton candy, but it takes culture seriously. It seems noteworthy in this regard that the original novel and the screenplay were written by Marie Desplechin—Arnaud’s sister—and of course the film’s director is the daughter of Gilles. An American film for young girls with an equivalent pedigree is impossible to imagine.