Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. France, 2013. Mandarin Films, Mars Films, France 2 Cinema, FOZ, Canal+, Cine@, France Televisions, La Banque Postale Image 6, Cofimage 24, Sofica Manon 3, Cofinova 9, Palatine Étoile 10, Region Ile-de-France. Screenplay by Francois Ozon. Cinematography by Pascal Marti. Produced by Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer. Music by Philippe Rombi. Production Design by Katia Wyszkop. Costume Design by Pascaline Chavanne. Film Editing by Laure Gardette. Cannes Film Festival 2013. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
Francois Ozon’s films have a sheen to them, a hard shell that sometimes makes them dazzling and glorious (8 Women), but other times renders them impenetrable (Angel). This one tries for the former but achieves the latter as it examines the life of a teenage girl who follows an awkward initiation into the world of adult sexuality with a foray into daytime prostitution. She keeps regular attendance at classes and doesn’t let her homework lag behind, but in her free time she meets men who have responded to her online profile and takes money for the odd screw in a hotel room. One of her clients is a ritzy older gentleman with whom she makes a connection that eventually throws her situation into the open. Ozon is looking at the dark side of a generation who, thanks to the easy connectivity of the digital age, and the deceptive appearance of a lack of consequences for actions achieved through that connectivity, find unhealthy expressions for the familiar developmental angst of burgeoning adulthood. The trouble is that Ozon’s leading lady is young and beautiful but her character is sullen more often than curious or rebellious: this is not the kinky joy hidden beneath the icy froideur of Catherine Deneuve’s Belle De Jour, but a woman passively allowing herself to be demoralized in order for a director to make a point that, by now, is far too familiar. A sequence with Charlotte Rampling makes for a pleasant conclusion, but other than that it is nothing to write home about.