3 December 2013

Film Review - Jeune Et Jolie (Young & Beautiful)

Lionsgate Fims UK
Release Date:
22nd November 2013 (UK)
François Ozon
Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot,Charlotte Rampling

François Ozon’s examination of teenage sexual awakening is a quiet, puzzling affair. As a treatise on childhood, rebellion or sexuality it seems to offer up very little in the way of answers, but repeatedly alludes to a crucial and troubling question of motivation.

Seventeen year-old Isabelle’s (Marine Vacth) disappointing holiday dalliance with a German lad prompts the striking young girl to seek out an existence as a prostitute, the reasons for which are never truly explained. She frequents high-end Parisian hotel rooms servicing a number of gents, ultimately developing something approaching a relationship with a kind, elderly client.

The arrangement takes its toll on her family life, with the inevitable revelation damaging her already detached relationship with her parents. She is trotted off to see a psychologist to reflect upon the fallout her emotionally difficult, yet financially rewarding career path has caused to her and those around her.

Isabelle is frequently quizzed on the reasons behind her new calling as a prostitute, but it’s a question which is never reasonably answered. Indeed watching Vacth’s puzzlingly vacant expression as she lounges across the bed sheets, you’re never quite sure if she or the director had any clue themselves.

Perhaps the only reasonable explanation is just that she enjoys it, which might possibly be justification enough. It’s a coolly intriguing thought to dwell upon, but it leaves you with distinctly underwhelming and disappointing sense of a missed opportunity.

A mysterious sign-off with a briefly visible Charlotte Rampling provides little closure and only serves to intensify the slight sense of dissatisfaction which lingers throughout the whole thing.


Chris Banks

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