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4.1 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 October 2014
Francois Ozon's plodding, unconvincing drama stars Marine Vacth as Isabelle, a teenage student who, on return to Paris from a holiday, suddenly embarks on a career as a call girl.
This is a bit of a strange film, and it's hard to figure what really makes it tick, and what, if anything, it's trying to say. Vacth's character is cold and not very pleasant, a charmless brat who would probably benefit much more from a clip around the ear and a good talking to, rather than having any amount of patience and understanding afforded to her. The fact that the motives for her actions are never adequately explored is very detrimental to the effectiveness of the story; is it teen angst, boredom, simple greed, rebellion against the boring conventions of a bourgeois upbringing... Frankly, it becomes really hard to care, as the viewer slowly but surely develops a sense of alienation with regard to the characters and events on screen. An uninvolving, and ultimately, rather dreary and aimless experience, a pale, pale shadow of the likes of "Blue Is The Warmest Colour". Not Ozon's finest hour by any means.
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Young and Beautiful is the latest film from François Ozon (`In the house' and `Potische') he has a flair for great camera work and being able to tell a story effortlessly. This time he has made quite a dark tale. It is about Isabelle (Marine Vatch in her first big screen outing) who is very young and very beautiful. So on a summer holiday with her family she meets suave German Felix. He talks his way into getting what he wants and then she just drops him. What at first looks like being a bit of a disaster for her in the self gratification department soon takes on an unusual twist.

She decides to live a double life by being a hard working student and a prostitute in her spare time. She gets her `Johns' by plying her wares on line. She meets a variety of clients including George whose entanglement with her will cause everything to change.

I have really enjoyed Ozon's previous work especially `Dans la maison', but with this there seems to be some of the warmth missing. The twists in Isabelle's character are not unbelievable but so extraordinary that as the central focus of the film it prevents all the other elements from getting much attention. So as an ensemble piece it loses a bit - unlike his previous work. The young brother is the exception and provides the best vehicle for showing that Isabelle is a complex character capable of a wide range of emotions and essentially still growing up - this is Victor played by Fantin Ravat. The ending may leave some feeling short changed too but this is far from being an average film and I did find an awful lot to like, watch out for a cameo from Charlotte Rampling too. So not Ozon's best, but still good enough to be head and shoulders above most of the competition - recommended.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 6 December 2013
François Ozon has made possibly his most enjoyable film here for about a decade. It puts sex centre-stage which is really his strongest suit, and recalls the daring premise of Criminal Lovers, while having a more stylish surface. Marine Vacth (Isabelle) is certainly beautiful, remarkably so, in fact, even in an era when beautiful faces get photographed all the time. Her portrayal of a seventeen-year-old who decides to become a prostitute while doing her baccalaureat, without telling anyone, of course, is treated with all Ozon's trademark ambiguity, but without the tricksy narrative effects he sometimes uses. Here, what you see is what happens, in the right order. The tone is beautifully poised, not at all moralising, with the camera showing its eroticising potential to the full, far more so than a lot of porn. It is not so much how much flesh you see, but the suggestion of sexual possibility which suffuses almost every frame. The contrast between the liberation of the erotic impulse and the stifling, closed-in bourgeois world he focuses on is dizzying. The result is something unique to him, even if it borrows from Belle de Jour. He gets more tenderness than that film, although Jeune et Jolie is admittedly not going to become a classic of those proportions. Some of the scenes are startlingly rude in unexpected ways - in this respect he outstrips Bunuel - particularly when Isabelle gets a boyfriend and brings him over to the parental home. However it doesn't let go of a realistic framework as happened in Sitcom, and the sense of surprise is therefore more effective. Everything is delightfully not spelt out, there is excellent use of music, particularly Francoise Hardy songs, an appealing nightclub sequence, and outstanding acting, especially from Vacth and her younger brother, played by Fantin Ravat, who makes a very good foil to her, a bit like one Russian doll concealing a smaller one (if thicker-set). One of her older clients is somehow affecting without undue glossing or sentimentalising, and I would say it is better than In The House, even though you might expect it to be the other way round ... Ozon's camera simply loves his lead actress and breathes beguiling substance into its capturing of her image.
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SPOILER ALERT

François Ozon's Young & Beautiful - a film that won't add up, well didn't for me. As time passes you believe you have the measure of it, but on further reflection the overall picture is somewhat inexplicable. A film concerned with female sexuality, chiefly in its nascent stages, and as such we the audience will be left puzzled. It centres on a Parisian teenager called Isabelle, played French actress Marine Vacth. She has a certain deportment - not unlike Catherine Deneuve's in Belle de Jour - that suggests she alone knows the answers and isn't telling.

As the film opens we meet Isabelle is on holiday with her family - on the eve of her 17th birthday, and she has decided to celebrate it by losing her virginity to a young German called Felix. An event, which for her, seems less of significance than she originally expected. Then the film jumps in time and family have returned to Paris: Isabelle, we discover, has turned to prostitution, a decision that the audience are never given a reason for. As the film moves on we are then, rather like voyeurs, given glimpses of her hotel room dealings.

After one, of her elderly customer experiences fatal heart attack during a liaison - she comes to the attention of the police, and this then leads to her mother finding out about her work. The audience are then shown the cash that she receives from her `activities' - as it simply piles up in her bedroom cupboard, it is obvious that money was not a motivator for her actions.

For me the film works because it withholds that tantalising answer of why she embarked on the path she had chosen: even when we learn of the event that lured Isabelle to prostitution was - just `idly fascination'. We leave the film without a real solution.
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on 27 October 2014
I like movies with a twist and the French never disapoints!! I knew something weirdly good will happen when I watch this. Well I loved it! She is so beautiful and played it very well! The story itself is shocking but not really.. If you know what I mean. AT this time (2014) parents has very little idea of their own children, even if they are good at raising them. With the internet - everything is available! So if a teen girl wants to became a prostitute - its about 2 clicks away. Frightening actually. I really like how the French did not over explain the details and you have to find out things yourself - using your brain. Its actually so unfamiliar now with all the American cheesy movies when they tell and show you everything so you dont have to imagine anything or stress your brain too much.
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on 12 April 2015
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.
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on 16 September 2014
As this film "Young & Beautiful' began to tell its' story of the sexual (mis)adventures of a lovely young (17 year old) French maiden "Isabelle" it (initially) reminded me of another recent French film that explored the world of young women and prostitution: "Student Services"(see my review of same for more on that film). In both movies the, rather disaffected, heroine of the tale dabbles in the 'play 4 pay' lifestyle to earn a little spending cash and both are seemingly emotionally quite distant from the intimate acts they are performing and the people that they are performing them with. But, whereas the plot of "Student Services' never went much beyond the rather mono-dimensional self loathing evinced by its' lead female "Young & Beautiful" takes some interesting twists and turns and presents a much more complex set of characters and circumstances and is ultimately, I feel, a more engaging and successful film because of that fact.

Perhaps this is partially due to the purported 'age' of the lead character - who determines to lose her 'cherry' on her 17th BD (and does!) then sets out to market herself on the internet as an 'escort' - all this while she is still living at home with her FAMILY! It is ultimately this interaction w/ the complexities of the various family members that gives the film its' soul and poignancy. The Director does a fine job of revealing the various story elements and personalities slowly and providing just enough information about them to make them real without becoming moralistic or overindulgent about any of the proceedings.

The gorgeous ingenue lead actress (Marine Vacth) effectively portrays the (typically teenage) rather self-centered young woman who is coming to grips with her own physical sexuality but doesn't have much of a handle on the emotional aspects of it yet. She makes a very convincing 17 year old and rewards the viewer with many scenes sans clothing as she plies her trade - all of the sex scenes are tastefully presented - nuthin' gratuitous or XXX! Ultimately this is a film dealing with the complex nature of human sexuality and family relationships - I found it to be refreshingly candid and non-judgmental in addressing these topics (doubtless a Euro/French touch!) and would recommend it as an intriguing viewing experience for just about anyone. French language with English subs.
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on 4 April 2014
This is a beautifully told tale of a seventeen year old girl experiencing her first love and encounters with sex and the experiments she takes in exploring both. Everyone in the film is absolutely natural and believable: you never get the feeling that these are actors playing a role, but that you are seeing the actual characters being themselves. The nudity is so natural and normal as to be almost totally unisexual. This is French cinema at its best!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 December 2014
I loved this film, I loved the beautiful Marine Vacth, the cinematography, the mystery of the film. Francois Ozon directed beautiful and different coming-of-age tale (and did it masterfully!). In "Young and Beautiful", 17 year old Isabelle decides to become a high-class prostitute with strictly "after school" working hours.

Francois Ozon's quiet sexual drama raises more questions than it answers, but sometimes you want to be left wondering... It's just... Beautifully done, engaging, sometimes heartbreaking, mysterious and melancholy.

Oh, it's not for everybody, but if you are in the right mood for a blue, slightly erotic (and at times perplexing) tale of love, youth and self-discovery, innocence and trust - you might enjoy it a lot!
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on 25 February 2015
Interesting film about the White male dislike of White women which successfully explores the fact that this leads White women to live double lives in order to have any emotional satisfactions at all.

The emotional dissociation from pleasure and the anhedonia of the characters are well-presented and explain why prostitution (like its sister activity, pornography) should be so prevalent in an allegedly sexually-liberated Western culture.

The central issue here, becomes not that ones daughter is a prostitute, but that she wants to discover what others fear and avoid: A full life. The fact that she has made a dangerous choice is irrelevant to the fact that she feels the need to make such a choice - despite the obvious, extra-cultural alternatives.

Marine VACTH’s character tries to understand why sex is a problem for Whites yet, in the process, merely discovers White male lust as a substitute for desire - from which she cannot discover her true feminine self; leaving her as anhedonic as before. As an actress, VACTH captures the duality of her character effortlessly - along with the baleful affects of the White need for a pornography from which Whites learn their sexual behaviors.

The problem with this film is that it does not roam outside its own culture to discover a better way for people to live their sexual lives; something Whites clearly believe is impossible since Whites do not believe they can learn anything useful from anyone not White; giving the clear sense, here, of characters trapped in a social abyss of their own making.
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