Actors: Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas
Director: François Ozon
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: August 26, 2014
Run Time: 93 minutes
The saddest aspect of the narrative of youthful prostitution in Young & Beautiful is how derivative it feels. I’m sure that it is an accurate portrayal worldwide, whether young girls becoming escorts as an even more lucrative option than stripping to put themselves through college, or those who take on the profession with no other options. At the same time, the film industry seems to latch onto these narratives far too often, and it just begins to feel like an excuse to encourage the male gaze, with actresses that always look young and beautiful.
The one unique shocking aspect of Young & Beautiful is just how young the filmmakers make the prostitute protagonist. While other films about prostitution in the recent past (including the oddly popular sub-genre of nude sleeping companions) simply utilized actresses who looked extremely young, this one is about an extremely young character. Isabelle (Marine Vacth) is a seventeen-year-old French girl who inexplicably begins a double-life as a prostitute after being propositioned on the street shortly after losing her virginity. As shocking as this premise may seem, it also feels somewhat bland compared to the forcefully shocking abomination that was Nymphomaniac. The truth is that there are just too many movies trying to cash in on the shock-value/appeal of sex.
The biggest difficulty in watching Young & Beautiful is the fact that there are no relatable characters. We are never close enough to anyone to truly empathize, and this is never more apparent than with Isabelle. It appears that she is a working girl for the money, although her family is comfortably in the middle class and it is never clear what she intends to spend the hoard of cash on. It also doesn’t usually appear as though she enjoys the sex itself, which also makes the viewing of the acts that much more disconcerting. The more films that are made about sex, the less sexual they seem.
The DVD special features include a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 4/10