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Anne (Juliette Binoche), a well-off, Paris-based mother of two and investigative journalist for ELLE, is writing an article about student prostitution. Her meetings with two fiercely independent young women, Alicja (Joanna Kulig) and Charlotte (Anais Demoustier), are profound and unsettling, moving her to question her most intimate convictions about money, family and sex. Written by
I was expecting Juliette Binoche to be as fabulous as she normally is, but she was the disappointment among the three female leads.
To be fair, I think it was the fault of the part, rather than faults in her performance. I think the idea was that her character, the journalist, got so involved in what she was researching and writing that she forgot about her own life and family until the story was finished; but the result was that her character was just a mess.
What I liked about the film was what seemed to be a much more honest and realistic portrayal of the two prostitutes than we normally see. Both were very believable. Both students, one (Anaïs Demoustier as Charlotte) in control of what she was doing, and the other (Joanna Kulig as Alicja) drinking to much and seemingly headed for disaster. Both of them liked sex; Charlotte liked the sex she had with her customers apparently just as much as she liked the sex she had with her boyfriend. You don't see that in Hollywood movies. In Hollywood movies the prostitutes never kiss and they never have orgasms, and they all hate what they're doing. In this film, Charlotte didn't hate it at all, in fact she liked it a lot; whereas Joanna said that she liked it, and seemed to like the physical sensations, but also seemed to hate the idea of what she was doing. That seemed pretty realistic to me.
There were two things that struck me particularly. One was quite early on in the film, when Juliette Binoche asked Charlotte why she kept working. The answer was that the money was hard to give up.
The second was from Charlotte again, and again in answer to a question from Juliette. The question was, what was the worst thing about the work, and the answer was having to tell lies all the time.
Both of those things rang pretty true to me.
So what it comes down to is a more realistic portrayal of prostitution than we normally get, but a rather messy movie with a rather messy central character.
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