12 April 2015 | jm10701
Brilliant & Beautiful
Young & Beautiful is one of François Ozon's few completely serious movies, without even the gentle humor of In the House. This will appeal more to fans of Time to Leave or Under the Sand than to fans of 8 Women, for example - unless you love every movie he's ever made, as I do.
This is the marvelously well written, directed, photographed and acted story of a beautiful girl named Isabelle, from a prosperous and loving middle-class family, who turns 17 during the course of the movie. She and her younger brother Victor are best friends.
She has a strong sex drive but quickly discovers that she doesn't really enjoy the act itself. Her body insists on doing it, and she's in high demand because of her extraordinary beauty, so she goes online and turns it into a part-time job on weekdays after school. She does it more to channel her frighteningly strong drive into something productive than for the money - which seems to me like a remarkably intelligent and sensible decision for a 17-year-old. No one has any idea that she's doing it, even Victor.
Everything goes well until the police investigation of a sudden but natural death involves her, and the cops tell her mother. Since she's a minor, she's legally a victim, not a criminal, but the proverbial stuff hits the fan anyway.
Besides Ozon's brilliance and skill, which are remarkably consistent across the wide range of genres he experiments with, this movie is extraordinary for three wonderful performances. First is Marine Vacth as Isabelle. It's rare and delightful when a great beauty turns out to be greatly talented as well.
Second is Fantin Ravat as her little brother Victor. Theirs is the strongest, healthiest, most interesting and most gratifying sibling relationship I've ever seen.
Third is Charlotte Rampling as the wife of one of Isabelle's clients. The scene between her and Vacth is like a cinematic jewel, full of beauty and magic. Those two powerful women and Ozon raise an already very good movie into the heavens. Fantastic.