Young And Beautiful

young and beautiful posterYoung and pretty, she certainly is; newcomer Marine Vacth has the looks and talent to give life to her role, infusing her performance with fragility, absence and rebellion. French director François Ozon (Swimming Pool) certainly knows how to choose his muses. This promising actress is radiant throughout the film, carrying it on her frail shoulders. She assumes her nakedness, offered to rich men and to us spectators, to deliver an uncompromising portrait of adolescence.

Young and pretty is the story of Isabelle, a young girl who embraces quietly, secretly prostitution until the truth comes out following some dramatic events. With this film, Ozon clearly focuses on our society’s sickness, with pornography, Internet access and dating sites opening the door to teenagers to explore their sexuality without boundaries; and to his credit, Ozon tackles this tricky subject with surprising subtlety. Avoiding vulgarity and the exploitation of an erotic sensuality, the filmmaker keeps his heroine’s motivation secret: She comes from a wealthy family, has good relations with her brother (her confident), her young mother and her stepfather … so why is she selling her body? The answer will remain a mystery and this actually doesn’t really matter as the real theme here is teenage prostitution and post-adolescence melancholy.

In the sequence where Isabelle loses her virginity, her character splits into two doubles, one of them watching the scene, like a witness. This duality is omnipresent throughout the film and even if it might be some showy trick, the actress’ performance makes you forget this superficial aspect of the movie.

Young and pretty isn’t far from being flawless though, the film suffering from being clearly underwritten. Ozon accentuates the character’s traits and succumbs to the temptation to take the spectators’ hand to lead them through his story. He uses several obvious devices to provide us with information about his character; for example, a birthday cake lets us know about Isabelle’s age; in another scene we hear a Françoise Hardy songs featuring explicit lyrics while books from Rimbaud and Choderlos de Laclos (Dangerous Liaisons ) are part of Isabelle’s life. There are also quite a few clichés, whether it’s in the depiction of her clients – from dirty old men to friendly regulars –  or a subplot involving a boyfriend and showing them kissing on the Pont des Arts (the Parisian bridge where lovers come to kiss). All those scenes might be successful, mostly thanks to solid supporting performances from the likes of Charlotte Rampling (great as Françoise Hardy), Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot and Fantin Ravat (the young brother) but this isn’t enough to save Young and pretty from its cliché-ridden storyline; once you leave the theater, Marine Vacth’s presence is probably the only thing that will remain from that movie.

Director: François Ozon – Actors: Marine Vacth, Frédéric Pierrot – Running Time: 1:35 – Year: 2013 – Country: France

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Moland Fengkov

Moland Fengkov

Based in Paris, Moland is a journalist and photographer; He is more particularly responsible for covering the Cannes film festival for Plume Noire, writing movie reviews and taking gorgeous pictures.
Moland Fengkov

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