After just one year since debuting his wonderfully dark comedy, IN THE HOUSE, French auteur, Francois Ozon, returns to the screen with YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL. Ozon, known for often working with great French speaking actresses such as Catherine Deneuve and Kristen Scott Thomas, chooses Marine Vacth, an unknown, to star in his latest film and he definitely made the right choice.
As the film opens, we see, through the eyes of binoculars, a beautiful young woman, tanning nude on a beach. This introduces us to one of the films main themes, voyeurism, right away. The girl is Isabelle (Vatch), a 17 year-old on summer vacation with her family. Isabelle has decided that before the end of the summer, she wants to lose her virginity, and has chosen Felix (Lucas Prisor) to take it from her. After Isabelle gets her wish, we skip right ahead to the next season. In typical Ozon fashion, a song is used to transition us and capture the thoughts and emotions of the what we just watched. Isabelle is now a prostitute. We do not know why she is doing it, as she clearly doesn’t need the money. The remainder of the film follows Isabelle’s second life as a teenage prostitute, telling clients she is 20, as she deals with a variety of customers and risks being caught.
YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL is extremely well written and the acting is fantastic. Though the film is at times dark, Ozon uses the role of Isabelle’s stepfather for comedic relief; and every Ozon fan knows that Ozon does dark comedy like no other. Though Ozon’s writing and direction is exemplary, the best thing in the film is Vacth, an actress who we should all expect to see more of in the future.