Young and Beautiful

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Young and Beautiful

17-year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacth) wasn’t all that impressed with her first sexual experience. So, as you do, she decides to spend her holidays setting up shop in a local hotel and going to work as a high-class call girl. Well, it’s not quite as straightforward as that: she comes from a well-off French background so she’s not doing it for the money (in fact, she doesn’t even seem to care about the cash), she’s not exactly getting off on sexing up a string of old men, and it’s difficult to know for sure even if her prostitution is a reaction to her disappointing initial encounter with sex or whether she’s just doing it to see if she can get away with it. But that’s clearly the way director François Ozon (Swimming Pool) wants it, as we’re given no real window into Isabelle’s inner workings or motivations.
Split into four segments – summer, autumn, winter, spring – the invitation is there to view this as a young woman coming of age, but the film does little to back this reading – or any reading really – up. Instead, it often seems content to merely linger on Vacth’s body, providing the kind of dubious euro-sleaze that arthouse films are often accused of and expecting that the viewer will come up with their own justifications to fill in the gap – more like a yawning chasm – between what we see on the screen and what could possibly be motivating Isabelle. If you like to look, it’s fine; if you like to think, it’s a disappointment.
Written by Anthony Morris