Review: Young & Beautiful

The stunning Marine Vacth plays Isabelle, a late teen on holiday with her family. Eager to lose her virginity, she does so rather mechanically with a fellow holidaymaker.

Sure to shock some for its frank showing of sex, and annoy others with its ambiguity, Francois Ozon’s (In the House, Swimming Pool) latest is an effortlessly beautiful-looking film, which explores a 17-year-old’s sexual awakening. The stunning Marine Vacth plays Isabelle, a late teen on holiday with her family. Eager to lose her virginity, she does so rather mechanically with a fellow holidaymaker. It then cuts to a few months later, where at home in Paris, Isabelle is a prostitute working under the name Lea. There is no explanation for her motivation to become a prostitute. She just is. Using a website and a second mobile phone, Isabelle meets older clients in hotel rooms (usually) while still at school. Her family and friends are unaware of her secret life. Everything changes when a regular client Georges (her sweetest ‘John’) dies from a heart attack in a hotel room. Leaving Isabelle to flee the scene. This is not your regular hooker with a heart of gold story. Isabelle is cold and can be horrible to those around her. Some may lament the fact that Ozon doesn’t explore Isabelle’s motivations to become a call-girl, and the seemingly extreme leap from virgin to prostitute, the ending, and other choices Isabelle (wonderfully played by Vacth) makes but the haziness of Young & Beautiful is what makes it fascinating, as Isabelle is a puzzle you can’t quite piece together.

X