Festival favourite François Ozon (In the House, 8 Women, Under the Sand) directs this coming-of-age chronicle of a young French girl that takes place over four seasons and four songs.
Young & Beautiful
Through binoculars, a young and beautiful woman is observed sunbathing, topless. The opening shot of François Ozon's new drama invites the viewer's own voyeurism. It's the beginning of a nuanced portrait of one seventeen-year-old girl's journey of sexual awakening and self-discovery.
Isabelle (Marine Vacth) is on summer vacation in the south of France when she takes up a desultory relationship with Felix (Lucas Prisor), a hunky German tourist. He is neither her emotional nor her intellectual equal. We will watch her give up her virginity to him, only to cast him aside without a care days later. We next meet Isabelle in the fall, back in Paris, where we discover that she's set up a website to accept appointments from johns she will meet for sex in chic hotel rooms. She is a cool professional. But this does not mean she's immune to the effects of the sexual whims of and occasional rough treatment from men. It is only with one regular client that she allows herself to experience any pleasure. That is until the unthinkable happens and she's forced to deal with the consequences of her decisions.
Presented over the course of four seasons, the mood of each characterized by a distinctive song, Ozon's film provides an unprejudiced glimpse into the adolescent female psyche. While he subtly hints at an economic subtext, Ozon perfectly captures the sense of fearlessly searching for your identity.
A breathtaking discovery, Vacth gives a
career-making performance as Isabelle, with
Pascal Marti's languid camera luxuriating
on her every move. With a powerful cameo
from Charlotte Rampling in the raw finale as
a client's wife, Young & Beautiful fuels our
desires, captivates our intellect, and leaves us
wondering whether our motivations can ever
truly be known.