Jeune et Jolie – review
A vacant central performance and equally empty directorial treatment cast no light on the difficult subject of teenage prostitution
Sunday 1 December 2013
The whiff of fatuousness pervades François Ozon's film about "what it feels like to be 17" in which the grim subject of teenage prostitution is flirted with "to illustrate the questions of identity and sexuality raised by adolescence". Blithely quoting the poems of Rimbaud and the songs of Françoise Hardy, Ozon presents a four seasons portrait of "young and beautiful" Isabelle (Marine Vacth) who drifts listlessly from losing her virginity on a beach to selling her body in hotels.
Her motives are unclear. Beyond a disenchantment with people in general and sex in particular, there's no driving force (monetary, domestic) behind her actions. Inevitably, she ends up making a "connection" with an ageing client (Johan Leysen) with whom Ozon breezily imagines that her professional transactions are "tender, not at all mechanical", the tiredest of soft-soap cliches. Vacth remains impressively vacant throughout, although the real prize in that respect must go to Ozon himself.
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