Elles is a slight little film worth seeing just to enjoy the beautiful and stylish Juliette Binoche.

She plays the role of a Paris journalist, Anne, who is writing a magazine feature on young prostitutes in the city. Two fresh-faced girls, Charlotte (Anais Demoustier) and Alicja (Joanna Kulig) respond to the ads she has placed, and cheerfully recount details of their encounters with clients.

There are a few steamy scenes but on the whole we get a sanitised view of the oldest profession. The girls are surprised that many of the men just want to talk. Afterwards, most of them go home to their wives, they say.

They find the life, and the easy money, too addictive to consider giving it up.

On the surface, Anne seems to have it all – a job she loves, a successful husband, two sons, a sophisticated lifestyle. But as she gets more involved with Charlotte and Alicja, she gets increasingly dissatisfied with her own life.

 

She has minimal communication with the men in her family. Her husband is distant and demanding, expecting her to produce a gourmet meal for his business associates on the day she is racing to meet a deadline.

Their teenage son floats by in a cloud of marihuana and openly despises his parents’ lifestyle. The younger boy is addicted to computer games.

This is a French-Polish-German co-production with a Polish director, Malgoska Szumowska, who wrote the script with Tine Byrckel.

They make a fairly bleak assessment of Anne’s situation – which is far from unique as marriages go – suggesting that by taking part in the happy-family charade, she is prostituting herself as much as the two call girls, who at least are honest about their choice of lifestyle.

Elles is now showing at Luna Leederville.

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