Jeune & Jolie (Young & Beautiful)
François Ozon loves women, and he certainly knows how to capture their complexities. His new feature Jeune & Jolie was competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. While the title suggests a light story, fresh and happy, it is not. Isabelle/Lea (depending on what she does each day), played by Marine Vacth, loses her virginity during her 17th summer. Living in a beautiful Parisian flat with her doctor mother, kind stepfather and conniving brother, this gorgeous young woman decides to become a prostitute. In secret, she then meets with a lot of different men, and on old one in particular.
Evolving, along with her environment, with grace and voluptuousness, Vacth delivers a performance with great sensuality, sometimes fevered but always sensible. Her indifference is disturbing, which makes her rare breakdowns even more touching.
The beautiful Geraldine Pailhas portraits perfectly Isabelle’s mother and her inability to understand or help her daughter. Charlotte Rampling’s emotional appearance at the end of the movie is exquisite, the director’s statement that being young and beautiful can last a lifetime.
Ozon doesn’t want to explain the situation, and expertly erects a smokescreen around the possible reasons for his muse’s behaviour. Through the year’s varying seasons, his camera follows this little girl becoming an adult in her own way – the way she wants to. She doesn’t seem to know how to grow up, physically or emotionally, and the director has no intention of judging her. To play down the tragedy of the characters’ circumstances, touches of humour and old-fashioned corny songs are scattered throughout, further improving an already excellent piece of cinema.
Jeune & Jolie (Young & Beautiful) is released nationwide on 29th November 2013.
Watch the trailer for Jeune & Jolie (Young & Beautiful) here: