4 December 2013 | GrowMagicBeans
A subject matter dealt with the subtlety that only French Movie can.
Having lived a relatively sheltered life, a young 17 year old girl, Isabelle (Marine Vacth), begins to explore her sexuality in rather a risqué fashion. We meet Isabelle on holiday on the eve of her 17th birthday. While on vacation, she meets a German boy and has an underwhelming first sexual experience. We meet her again in the Autumn to learn she is now leading a double life, moonlighting as a high class escort while still living under her mother's roof and attending school.
Of course there are some very ugly situations and in some hard to watch scenes, we see Isabelle near accepting the degrading attitude of some of her clients as if it is all her self worth, but then we also get to see her striking up a tender relationship of a different kind, with a much older man and later witness a conceited smile as she turns on her phone to a plethora of messages. Why does she do this to herself? Is it a form of self-harm or a narcissism? Is it an addiction, spurred from a desire to be loved without outwardly feeling capable of loving? Does she do it for the danger, the fear, the excitement, or is the money a factor also? Is it part due to having an estranged father? Does she enjoy it because it endows her with power over men and draws jealousy and insecurity from women? Or is she simply feeling starved of experience and hungers exploration?
All these questions are certainly posed or at least hinted at, but don't expect clear explanations or moral conclusions. No, the movie explores these themes without outrightly condemning or condoning her actions. Yes, Isabelle does draw herself into difficulty through her actions, but the discourse of this movie is not one of the obvious cause and effect we have come to know from mainstream cinema. There is no deus et machina to extricate an easy exit or satisfactory fix or lesson well learnt or crime punished. There are only the awkward moments that life throws at us in unexpected ways and uncomfortable truths that may never be satisfactorily reconciled. In other words, we are looking through a window into but a moment within this young lady's life --the passing of a year, the exploration of her sexuality-- and the fascinating aspect of this movie is that we see her live out the extraordinary in quite an ordinary way.