Vacationing with her family in the south of France, 17-year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacth) loses her virginity, but does not feel anything. Back in Paris she becomes a high-end prostitute. She starts her own website, changes her name to Lea and meets older, rich men after school. 300 Euros is her price. She steals her mother’s dresses to look older, and pretends she’s 20. Her most regular client is a kind older gentleman called Georges. At home nobody knows her secret. That is until an accident happens, and Isabelle’s mom gets a call from the police. It will not please some people, but Jeune & jolie is not a morality tale with neat lessons to be taken home after the film is over. What I liked the most here is the fact that director François Ozon camera does not judge Isabelle. There are no narrator telling us what she is doing, or why she is doing it. Nothing is spelled out for us. Jeune & jolie is the cold, clinical exploration of the subject. Marine Vacth impressed me with her way she shows Isabelle from innocence, sexual detachment, defiance and finally maturity. Géraldine Pailhas as Sylvie, Isabelle’s mother also give an excellent performance. It is topped by the late arrival of Charlotte Rampling (a Ozon favorite), whose performance only lasts a few minutes. There is a lot of sex and nudity in Jeune & jolie. Certainly not for prudes. It is nevertheless a classy act. And talk of classy act, Ozon adds great song from French singer extraordinaire Francoise Hardy. Imagine! A French film with French songs! I thought I was dreaming. Four songs for the four seasons that frames Isabelle’s story.
Jeune & jolie (Young & beautiful)