Chris (Valerie Kaprisky) and her mother Claude (Caroline Cellier) are spending their vacation at a beach resort in the C?te d'Azur. Chris is an 18 year old teenager that is searching for her place in the world – she is sensitive, amoral, egocentric, erratic? and to get what she wants she doesn't mind trampling on other people. There's a hidden rivalry between Chris and her mother, Claude. Chris watches Claude and her relationships with a mixed feeling of jealousy and indignation, but the funny thing is that her mother seems not to be aware of what's taking place within Chris's mind. Chris has many relationships – She is sweet and dangerous - Chris takes people, uses them and disposes of them - she destroys them if necessary. But Chris feels also insecure and doesn't really know what she wants and where to go.
The C?te d'Azur of the 80s is very freewheeling. Mother (Claude) and daughter (Chris) sunbathe topless (all the women on the beach do the same), and nudity is no problem at all in "L'Année des Meduses" (The year of the jellyfish). The beautiful Valerie Kaprisky appears frequently naked, but "The year of the jellyfish" is not an exploitation film and the nudity comes naturally - it plays an important part in the environment described by the film. People go to the C?te d'Azur (or any other beach resort) not just to swim, enjoy the scenery or go to discos - they are also looking for something different? different love games, new thrills etc...
There's a difference between "The year of the jellyfish" and the similar-themed Italian films of the 70s (perverse/sweet teenage girl). The Italian films (at least those that I've seen), are sexual/romantic (sex and fantasy) and they may be cynical, but many of them are also a bit naive and sentimental. "The year of the jellyfish", on the other hand, is more grim, but it's neither a gray, nor an existentialist film - there's the C?te d'Azur, the girls, the beautiful scenery and the blue sky? and the film displays a subtle irony and sense of humor. Besides showing a greater sense of reality there's sometimes a discreet poetry in its images.
Those that are tired of the conventional youth films made nowadays should check out "The year of the jellyfish" – it's a breath of fresh air.