During the summer holidays, Max (Oscar Copp), a 10-year old boy, stays with his grandmother in the Alsace region of France. Frequently, he slips away to visit a community of Manouche gypsies, having befriended a young gypsy girl named Swing (Lou Rech). A fan of the gypsy jazz musician Django Reinhardt, Max trades his Walkman for a guitar and takes music lessons from one of the gypsies, Miraldo (Tchavolo Schmitt).
10-year-old Max (Oscar Copp) is spending the summer with his elderly grandmother while his mother is away. He's a bit bored until he discovers the gypsy community living on the edge of town, and he becomes fascinated with the music they make. He acquires a guitar and takes lessons from the illiterate Miraldo (Tchavolo Schmitt) in return for writing to the welfare department for him. And he also meets Swing (Lou Rech), a tomboy his own age – at first he thinks she's a boy, but they become firm friends and as the pair become close, Swing becomes more feminine.
This quite wonderful film isn't only a showcase for gypsy music, something Tony Gatlif has celebrated in his other films. It's about one memorable summer in the lives of two 10-year-olds, a time of discovery, friendship and love. Oscar Copp and Lou Rech are miraculously good as the youngsters, and there are very natural performances, too, from Tchavolo Schmidt as the guitar maestro and Helen Mershstein as an elderly woman who recalls, with reluctance, the horrors of the war. The music scenes are great, but this is much more than just a music film; the screen lights up with the warmth and humanity on display.