Film Review: Vacant, Sad Sexual Journey in ‘Young & Beautiful’

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Average: 5 (3 votes)

CHICAGO – “Young & Beautiful” may have people rethinking the phrase, “Oh, to be young and beautiful again.” Well, maybe the “young” part, since we seldom don’t hear lamentations of the loss of beauty. Here’s a film that reminds us that wisdom not only comes with age, but also with mistakes. It also serves as a reminder that in our youth, we often get stuck in irreversibly bad patterns that hurt ourselves and the ones who love us. Writer/director Francois Ozon’s latest leaves us to decide whether or not the young and beautiful protagonist has any regret for her rash and vacant erotic adventures. Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The film opens on a teenage girl relaxing topless on a beach in France, while a younger boy peeps through binoculars from the tree line above her. She is seventeen year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacth) and he is her curious brother, Victor (Fantin Ravat), who are both of vacationing with their mother, Sylvie (Géraldine Pailhas) and stepfather, Patric (Frédéric Pierrot) in a beach house they are sharing with some friends. The nosey Victor agrees to cover for Isabelle as she sets out to lose her virginity to a handsome young German named Felix (Lucas Prisor), but only if she tells him anything. 

It isn’t very clear why this is Isabelle’s summer goal. We don’t see her taking about sex with friends or looking at Kama Sutra books. We don’t even see her looking for the attention of any particular boys, not even Felix. Ozon does show her humping a pillow on her bed, a natural act of discovery for all teens. When “it” does happen with Felix, it is expectedly painful for Isabelle. We watch as she tunes out, waiting for this supposed passage of womanhood to come to an end. 

Although that first experience left her cold, the already emotionally withdrawn Isabelle sets out to investigate her own sexuality in her own private manner. She makes her presence known as an online prostitute, going by Lea, and meeting predominately older men at fancy hotels. It takes some awkward afternoon encounters (and online porn homework) with several clients to get the hang of it, but soon enough Isabelle develops her own method of pleasing men.  

“Young & Beautiful” continued its limited release in Chicago on May 16th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Marine Vatch, Fantin Ravat, Geraldine Pailhas, Frederic Pierrot, Johan Leysen and Charlotte Rampling. Written and directed by François Ozon. Not Rated

StarContinue reading for David J. Fowlie’s full review of ”Young & Beautiful”

Marine Vacth
Isabelle (Marine Vacth) in ‘Young & Beautiful’
Photo credit: IFC Films

StarContinue reading for David J. Fowlie’s full review of ”Young & Beautiful”

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