French filmmaker Francois Ozon continues to explore transgressive aspects of sexuality (see In the House) with this deliberately controversial drama about a teen prostitute. But since he refuses to indulge in the usual cliches, we don't react the way we think we should, so the film forces us to think about the story in a surprisingly fresh way.
The teen in question is Isabelle (Vacth), who in the summer of her 17th birthday orchestrates the loss of her virginity to a cute stranger. When she tells her little brother Victor (Ravat), he can't understand how Isabelle could so casually dump this boy. And she never tells her open-minded mother and stepdad (Pailhas and Pierrot). Back home in Paris, she secretly starts working after school as a high-class hooker, visiting her clients in pricey hotels. But when her favourite john (Leyson) dies suddenly, her secret comes out. And everyone wonders if she can go back to being a regular teen.
The twist here is that Isabelle comes from a liberal, wealthy family, and has no need to become a prostitute. She seems to do it out of boredom, because she doesn't need the money and isn't that interested in sex either. On the other hand, she loves pretending to be older than she is. Vacth reveals all of this through a remarkably transparent performance that's often unnerving to watch. By clouding her motivation, we almost become complicit in her actions. We certainly can't just sit back and watch passively.
Continue reading: Young & Beautiful [Jeune & Jolie] Review
Isabelle is striking French 17-year-old girl living a secret life of sexual indulgence as a paid escort. On losing her virginity, she decides that prostitution is not only a brilliant way to earn bags of cash, but it also becomes her biggest thrill as she explores all areas of her sexuality while being worshipped by the rich men who pay her. However, when she is found out by the French police and an online profile featuring a half-nude photo of her is discovered, her situation becomes much more complicated. Her parents are devastated; her mother is torn between shame, anger and fear; and it soon becomes clear that she has to start thinking very carefully about what she wants out of her life.
'Jeune Et Jolie' (which translates to 'Young And Beautiful') is a heart-breaking coming-of-age drama about teenage desires and making life choices. Directed and written by BAFTA nominated Francois Ozon ('Swimming Pool', '8 Women', 'In The House'), the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and won the TVE Otra Mirada Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. It is set for release in the UK on November 29th 2013.
Herbert, Anton Corbijn, Johan Leysen and Thekla Reuten - Herbert Grönemeijer, Thekla Reuten, Johan Leysen and Anton Corbijn Vlissingen, The Netherlands - Film By The Sea Film Festival Friday 10th September 2010