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3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 12 October 2012
Polish screenwriter, producer and director Malgorzata Szumowska`s fourth feature film which she co-wrote with Danish French-based psychoanalyst, journalist and screenwriter Tine Byrckel and co-produced, is somewhat based on stories from real-life prostitutes which the director met as part of her research. It premiered in the Special Presentations section at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, was screened in the Spotlight section at the 11th Tribeca Film Festival in 2012, in the Panorama section at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in 2012 and is a Poland-France-Germany co-production which was shot in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany and produced by Danish-French producer Marianne Slot. It tells the story about a journalist for the worldwide fashion magazine Elle named Anne who lives in Paris, France with her husband named Patrick and their two adolescent sons named Florent and Stephane. Anne is doing an article about female student prostitution and is enlightened when she meets a French woman named Charlotte and a Polish woman named Alicja who explicitly tells her about their experiences with their clients.

Finely and intimately directed by Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska, this quietly paced fictional tale which is narrated from the viewpoints of a driven reporter and two young call girls, draws a somewhat engaging portrayal of a middle-aged woman who after getting to know and becoming intrigued by a lifestyle that is very foreign to that of her own, begins to care more about the theme of her article than her own family. While notable for its at times atmospheric, bleak and mostly interior milieu depictions, fine production design by production designer Pauline Bourdon and cinematography by Polish cinematographer Michal Englert, this character-driven and dialog-driven independent film depicts a dense study of character and contains a good score by Polish composer Pawel Mykietin.

This at times graphic and as intended dispassionate and unattractive story about young women who supports their high-class lifestyles by pleasing the repulsive sexual fantasies of mostly married male clients who are old enough to be their fathers and how their stories and perceptions of their chosen profession affects an outsider`s view on them and her own way of life, is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented narrative structure, subtle character development, multiple viewpoints, evasive characters and the credible acting performances by French actress Juliette Binoche, Polish actress Joanna Kulig, French actress Anaïs Demoustier and French screenwriter, director and actor Louis-Do de Lencquesaing. This unsentimental erotic drama where the suspense is centered on whether or not the protagonist`s fascination and empathy for the sex workers will seduce and instigate her to risk losing her family, commendably attempts to create new perspectives on a theme that has been thoroughly examined in many other fictional and non-fictional feature films.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 October 2014
I must say I always start from the premise that anything with Juliette Binoche in is generally worth watching, but, while this 2011 film directed (and co-written) by Polish film-maker Ma³gorzata Szumowska has a relatively intriguing premise - a journalist's 'inside take' on prostitution - I found Elles' episodic narrative only partially engaging, with even Binoche rather struggling to make it gel. Of course, such a subject matter - indeed, anything with a potentially high sexual content - is always (I feel) a cinematic challenge with the need to avoid gratuitous titillation and, whilst Malgorzata just about achieves that here with a starkly realistic portrait of the world's oldest profession, Elles just meanders a little too much for me.

Acting-wise, there's no problem. Binoche is never less than engaging as the 'beast of burden' Anne, a put-upon trophy wife (to Louis-Do de Lencquesaing's businessman Patrick) who discovers, to her surprise, that both 'escorts' she has managed to persuade to be interviewed for her magazine article are actually articulate, ambitious young women, apparently content in their new-found, lucrative side-jobs. Each of Anais Demoustier and Joanna Kulig are very impressive as (respectively) the upwardly mobile, but reserved Charlotte (with steady boyfriend still in tow) and the more extrovert Polish student Alicja - the latter who draws Anne out of her staid, abstinent self, thereby fostering a degree of rebellious self-discovery in the journalist. Unfortunately, having set up two potentially intriguing characters in Charlotte and Alicja, neither are (for me) satisfactorily developed (despite each experiencing 'rude awakenings' in their new 'careers') and we are left with the story of Binoche's Anne as the film's centrepiece, whose own sexual (re)awakening is (whilst convincingly done by the actress) only pursued to rather inconsequential effect.
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on 28 August 2012
Excellent and explicit film , showing a womens take on prostitution . Binoche is of course brilliant as the journalist who interviews 2 student escort girls and then finds her attitude to her own sex put under the spot light . This film is neither bleak nor titilating and all the acting seems extremely natural . One of my favourite films of the year .
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VINE VOICEon 17 September 2012
Juliette Binoche (The English Patient [1996] [Blu-ray], Three Colours Blue [DVD] [1993]) stars as Anne, an investigative journalist on the hunt for finding the truth about things. In her latest exposé she is looking into prostitution within students, and finds two girls quite happy to tell her what goes on (Charlotte (Anaïs Demoustier) and Alicja (Joanna Kulig)). She finds out shocking things she wouldn't expect in her life - and how the girls manage it, and still keep going to university at the same time. Anne discovers her life isn't as straight forward either, and she's lacking something.

It's quite an interesting film, though it is quite difficult to get into, as it's slow, and it's development does take a long time. Both Anaïs and Joanna are both good actors, and of course Juliette gives us a stirling performance. Some people may ask though, what separates this from porn and just a film though, and yes, that is a good question, as there are some scenes you'd normally get on a porn movie, though I don't think you could really get excited over this movie as it's not done glamorously and even at times it's quite cringe worthy.

The sound on this was excellent, with a good mix and sounds coming from all angles, the dialogue is well mixed too. The picture is good, clear and well coloured.

Altogether this is an interesting film, but I don't think I'd actually buy it as it has no come back features to it, once you've seen it, you've seen it. There's no fascinating moment where you think I really need to see that again, simply because it's slow and the progression can be minimal.

Watch out for François Civil, I can see him being a star in a few years time.
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on 14 May 2013
Fairly predictable after the first fifteen minutes The words"Engaging, personal, uncomfortalable haunting and terrifyingly real
are something of an excess.
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on 10 October 2013
The two interviewees of the frustrated housewife journalist played by Binoche appear to enjoy their escort role. We see them with various partners, in fairly steamy , confusingly erotic, scenes. Binoche clearly finds both girls fascinating and highly intelligent . Neither can really accept Binoche's opening assumption, that the girls' role must of necessity be degrading. Binoche gets increasingly captivated by their lives and sick of her own. But there are two significant glimpses of the girls which show their role in its degrading glory. Their relationships with their real boyfriends and mother, are also shown as casualties of their life choices. As an English speaker I found the drama fully engaging, the language an interesting study of interview technique. The acting is superb.
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on 12 October 2014
For me, as a francophile, any film with artistic pretensions and Juliette Binoche has to be watched, but this one was more a duty than a pleasure.

In these days of free internet porn, I wonder just how much longer film-makers are going to survive by "pushing back the boundaries".

For a really good film about student prostitution, I'd recommend Mes chères Etudes (Student Services) with Deborah François.
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on 13 March 2015
very happy with my purchase and the prompt delivery of this dvd
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on 23 July 2014
Have not watched it all yet but it seems very good so far.
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on 27 January 2016
Good social drama about the prostitution in France.
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