Young & Beautiful

(Jeune & jolie)
(France, 2013, 95 mins, DCP)
CAST Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot, Charlotte Rampling, Johan Leysen
PRODS Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
SCR François Ozon
CAM Pascal Marti
ED Laure Gardette
PROD DES Katia Wyszkop
MUS Philippe Rombi
PROD CO Mandarin Cinéma / Mars Film


François Ozon’s scandalous drama follows 17-year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacth), from a comfortable Parisian background, as she responds to her thoroughly disappointing first sexual experience by becoming a high-class online escort. Through the lurid liaisons that follow, she grows increasingly emboldened, setting the stage for an emotionally charged climax.

Don’t be fooled: While Ozon has never shied away from pastiche, what he’s crafted here is far more sophisticated than "Belle de Jour all over again." The director’s refusal to judge, coupled with Vacth’s alternately naked and veiled performance make for a disturbing and deeply affecting work. Remaining as fascinated as ever with female empowerment, Ozon adroitly weds brazen titillation and psychosexual provocation in a film sure to inspire the odd blush and fierce debate once the house lights have risen.

“A nuanced, emotionally temperate study of a precocious youth [it’s] elegant execution will win warm regard… With economical brushstrokes, Ozon sketches a rogue’s gallery of clients; some are little twisted, some a little sad… But it’s Vacth who really owns the film… Obviously she’s extravagantly, wantonly photogenic (a quality exploited in full by Pascal Marti’s impeccable lensing), but she also gives a proper performance, especially in the final reels when Isabelle starts to feel the irretrievability of the innocence she so brutally cast aside.”—Leslie Felperin, Variety

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