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"Unsentimental erotic drama..."
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.