2018/03/22

Execrable: Young & Beautiful

Young & Beautiful (2013)
Written and directed by François Ozon
Produced by Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
Starring Marine Vacth, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot, Fantin Ravat, Johan Leysen, Charlotte Rampling, Nathalie Richard, Djedje Apali
If Ozon fancied he might in seasonal address of teenage prostitution anatomize its risk and lascivity with an atom of the art or pizzazz produced by Buñuel, Pasolini, Imamura, Fassbinder, Eustache, Breillat, et al., he's as deluded as facile...as his broody, anemic adolescent (Vacth), who after her disappointing devirgination with a cute, Teutonic teen on holiday moonlights as a call girl until a copulatory tragedy obliges vice officers to disclose this extracurricular occupation to her mother (Pailhas). From its coastal commencement through a largely artless third act during which elaboration of meretricious motivations and a series of tired contrivances are belabored, the pinchbeck Pialat slathers sentimentality into a regurgitation of shots poached from superior pics with the adipose cream of old tracks by Françoise Hardy as slushy as Philippe Rombi's score, inconsonantly picturesque photography courtesy of Pascal Marti, and scenes in which Rimbaud's Romance is recited, then expounded by Vacth's dull doxy and her classmates: a cheap insinuation that this flaccid, specious celebration of acokoinonia shares any such passion or perspicacity. Naught save some fatuous satisfaction in her own sexual power and a nearly uncharacteristic moment of grief may be observed in the sullen trull, tarted and trudging sulkily from one dismally anaphrodisiac congress to the next, and as Ozon can't fathom women with any greater acuity than heterosexuality (as attested by his 5x2), his deficit of insight regarding the intellectual or emotional limitations that elicit premature promiscuity results in a flick as empty as its protagonist. There's an especially inexcusable shortcoming, as numerous gay filmmakers from Cukor to Almodóvar to Araki have evinced an unfailing apprehension of straights and the fairer sex, but this critical darling approaches both as does Branagh the Bard's masterworks: with a manner as melodramatic as peculiarly puerile, paired to overproduction. Harshly attractive Vacth reflects this inscience; selected by a poor eye for distaff lure, she's surely the most unappealingly pretty principal in recent memory, photogenic yet oddly barren of presence. Rampling's in typically (if temporally) fine form as the wife of an elderly john in a conclusion that very nearly conveys some human signification, but like so much else, her poise is merely redolent of better roles. If this dyslogy seems overtly referential, one must consider how grossly Ozon courts comparison with truly great cineastes, and how abashingly far short he falls, regardless of the press's purchased praise.
Instead, watch The Insect Woman or Sleeping Beauty.

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