Lowdown: A teenager disappointed with her love experiences turns to prostitution.
French director François Ozon has a track record of exploring the feminine (here's an example), with 2013’s Young & Beautiful (a rare case of a faithful translation from the French title Jeune & Jolie) is a case in point.
Divided into four episodes, one per season of a year, we follow 17 year old Isabelle (Marine Vacth). We start in summer, when she, her family and family friends are on vacances at a sunny Mediterranean site. Isabelle loses her virginity there to a German teenager, but the experience leaves her cold. So cold, that when we see her again in Paris at autumn we meet her as a prostitute.
Needless to say, such an approach comes with problems that are further magnified by Isabelle’s age. Things don’t always go well with her clients, and there is that much that she can hold back from her family. You can guess the rest: eventually, the dams break on Isabelle.
As artistic as Young & Beautiful is, I found myself wondering throughout what its point is. That is, beyond Ozon doing his best to undress another beautiful French girl before us viewers in yet another movie. Answers are not obvious, but if I could venture a guess I would say Ozon is trying to show how hard the modern world is on people growing up. Isabelle is not doing what she is doing inside a void; she does it in a world where she can see the infidelities of adults and where her young brother Victor can freely play extremely violent video games.
Overall: A challenging artistic statement or a semi erotic movie in the guise of an artistic statement? Given the Ozon factor, probably a bit of both. 2.5 out of 5 French crabs.