by Tony Medley
Not for children
Anne (Juliet Binoche) finds herself corrupted by the two prostitutes,
Charlotte (Anaïs Demoustier) and Alicja (Joanna Kulig), about whom she
is writing an article in this NC-17 rated film. It examines why some
beautiful young women become prostitutes and shatters feminist images
about who is exploiting whom. Says writer/director Malgoska Szumowska,
Before the start of the shoot, I
wanted to meet some young female prostitutes. In Poland, I knew from
reading the papers that many young female students are forced to sleep
with the owners of the rooms they live in. The account of one young girl
who was both beautiful and elegant made a great impression on me. From
the start of the interview, she only talked about sex, what she did and
what she liked to do. To be honest, I was shocked. Shocked by the fact
that a girl this pretty and intelligent derived pleasure from sleeping
with men for money. And it wasn’t only to meet vital needs such as food
and accommodation, but also for pleasure and to have a more pleasant
life. In fact, it was very different from the fantasy that most people
have of prostitution.
The film is as
much about Anne, her relationship with her family, and her moral slide
as it is about the prostitutes themselves. Unfortunately, Szumowska
sprinkles the film with mundane scenes of Anne's everyday life like
bringing home groceries and dealing with problems with her refrigerator
and blender that slow the pace considerably.
Counter-balancing this is an enchanting performance by Demoustier, which
is worth the price of admission by itself. She is a huge star aborning.
As to Kulig,
Szumowska says, "She wanted to be in the film so badly that she lied to
me when I asked her if she could speak French. When I realized it wasn’t
true, I thought she was very sassy. And in the end, in the film, she
does speak French!"
Kulig gives a
good performance also, but maybe the most memorable scene in the film is
one of her naked, receiving oral sex, as she displays breasts that are
so remarkable that even my female guest, who isn't nearly as interested
in breasts as I am, was impressed.
In addition to
the humdrum scenes of Anne's ordinary life, the film is marred by lots
of product placements, especially for Apple Computer (the King of
Product Placement) and Mercedes Benz.
Although this is
not hard core, it does contain female nudity and fairly specific scenes
of sexual activity. In French and Polish.
April 26, 2012