Young & Beautiful (‘Jeune et Jolie’)

DRAMA; 1hr 34min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot, Fantin Ravat

Beachy: Vacth

Seventeen-year-old Isabelle (Vacth) starts out as a blank canvas. Although not for long. After calculatedly losing her virginity, she becomes a part-time call girl. (Why? ) To Isabelle, turning tricks is no big deal. Then again, neither are her literary studies, her relationships with her peers and her limited family life. (Pailhas is her contradictory mother, Pierrot her pally stepfather and Ravat her peeping-Tom brother.) She seems to relish playing dress-up and flaunting her nubile body, but essentially Isabelle is an automaton.


For their dodgy part, her clients leave just about everything to be desired. Isabelle soldiers impassively on, amassing a wad of euros. Then an elderly regular (Johan Leysen) dies at an inconvenient moment and the merde doesn’t so much hit the fan as slam it to the ground. Her cover blown, Isabelle is bolshie. (“It’s my business, my life.”) Her judgmental maman is appalled. (“She’s bad to the bone.”) And by this dispiriting stage, I was wondering where writer-director François Ozon (In the House) could possibly be going. Nowhere much, as the plotting gods would have it. Isabelle is droopily lovely, like a Modigliani come to life. And frustratingly, she’s just as unknowable.