Young & Beautiful
Director: François Ozon
François Ozon explores the initial sexual experiences of a seventeen year old French girl over four seasons. At the end of summer, Isabelle, beautifully played by newcomer Marine Vacth, loses her virginity in a less than stellar first roll in the sand. As the season changes into autumn and then into winter, Isabelle steps up her carnal involvements by prostituting herself out to older men, leading to the emotionally charged climax. Four distinct songs (“The Love Of A Boy,” “Why Even Try?”,” “First Encounter,” and “I Am Me”) enhance each season, feeling just too precious and gimmicky.
Discovering her power over men, Vacth embraces the lead with great seduction and manipulation, but the motives behind some of her actions remain foggy. Her mother, Geraldine Pailhas, reacts appropriately with tears and disbelief in a pivotal moment, but her stepfather, Frederic Pierrot, catches on and is not swayed by her female charms. Rounding out the family is creepy, voyeur brother Victor (Fantin Ravat), fantasizing through his sister’s exploits. And watch out for Ozon regular Charlotte Rampling’s cameo at the end of the film.
What’s interesting is how Ozon provokes through the use of visual montage Vacth in the throes of passion. Pascal Marti’s cinematography is stunning, and only be surpassed by Vacthis’ beauty. It’s full of passion and beauty, exploring rites of passage. (Eric Marchen)
Saturday, September 7th, Visa Screening Room (Elgin), 6:00pm
Sunday, September 15th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, 6:00pm