22 March 2014

DVD Review - Jeune et Jolie (2013)

Drama, World Cinema
Lionsgate Films UK
Rating: 18
François Ozon
Charlotte Rampling, Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot
Buy Jeune&Julie: [DVD] or [Blu-ray + UV Copy]

François Ozon is a director who has intrigued (I still hope to watch See the Sea and Water Drops on Burning Rocks someday), excited (Under the Sand), frustrated (8 Women, Swimming Pool, and 5x2), and ultimately failed to entice (I am yet to see Angel, Potiche, In the House, and countless others), so when I was given the chance to review Jeune et Jolie I apprehensively agreed, spurred on by the fading hope that Ozon still has that truly great film in him.

Jeune et Jolie is not that film. And, to be honest, I am not sure what film it is at all. At the films beginning Isabelle (newcomer Marine Vacht), the seventeen year old young and beautiful of the title, dutifully gives away her virginity whilst on a family holiday, the blatant impression being that the result was unsatisfactory, her detachment shown from the perspective of an out of body experience. Soon after she is back home in Paris turning tricks as a high-end call girl.

And that is the entire extent of the film. Well, there is slightly more to it than that, such as the clichéd response from her mother, or the storyline surrounding the sudden death of one of Isabelle’s clients, but neither thread offer much in the way of a clue to unlocking a discernable theme or explanation to the proceedings. We are never offered any reasoning behind her decision.

But maybe that is the point, maybe Isabelle’s motives are left unclear for a reason. And maybe Vacht hits the nail on the head and understands what it was Ozon intended when she says, “What I liked was there's nothing that fundamentally makes her act as she does. It's something that maybe happens to a lot of adolescents – coming up against a rather violent experience, which you don't really analyse while it's happening.”

Or maybe she is wrong. While her argument seems completely plausible, and goes a good way toward a coherent explanation, I still remain unconvinced. For Jeune et Jolie is too ambiguous for there to be a straightforward answer and therein lies its problem. Through the unwillingness of Ozon to reveal his hand he lends the film a slightness that undermines any impact the film could have had.


Shane James

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