Thursday, May 03, 2012
ELLES is terrific. Juliette Binoche is amazing; this is one of her great performances. Anais Demoustier is lovable. Joanna Kulig is sexy and beguiling.
A journalist (Juliette Binoche) is writing a story for ELLES about college students who use prostitution as their day job (or night job) to pay for college and a better standard of living. Following the journalist for a few days while she researches the story and prepares for a dinner party, we experience an eclectic and wide ranging set of notions about sexuality. The two college students, the lovely Anais Demoustier, and the sultry and flirtatious Joanna Kulig, seem to enjoy their work, while the scenes we see of their lives seem much less idyllic.
Do we believe what they say? Do we believe our eyes? Or are our eyes and the beliefs we bring to the film too (negatively?) judgmental?
At the same time that we are wondering about ourselves, the journalist is wondering herself, contrasting her very bourgeois family life with the lives of her subjects, comparing their lives to the lives of her own children, and their johns with her husband and his friends.
Through the brilliant performances of Juliette Binoche, and the complete cast, we seem to get to know the characters and even their families, and their thoughts and emotions, even when they themselves seem not to understand them.
Most of the judgements/reviews of this movie that I've seen seem to be largely shaped by the (pre-existing?) attitudes of the reviewer as they come in to see the film (as is this review, perhaps), each one seeing a their own personal version of the film; but it seems to me the film is more exploratory and questioning than any single interpretation can capture. And it suggests a great complexity in sexual relationships. I suspect each viewer will bring to the film their own life and see it from that perspective. But I encourage everyone to see the film with as few preconceptions of sexuality and relationships as they possibly can.
Also listen to the film. It has one of the most brilliantly arranged musical commentary I've ever heard. It is a common (and sometimes accurate) cliche to say a film's location is a character; in this case, the music is a character -- akin to the chorus in classic Greek theater.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JULIETTE BINOCHE
ELLES - ON IMDB
THE DIRECTOR - WIKIPEDIA
JULIETTE BINOCHE - WIKIPEDIA
OUR ARTICLE ON ANAIS DEMOUSTIER