After going head to head with Blue is the Warmest Colour at Cannes, François Ozon’s latest release Jeune et Jolie was slightly overlooked, standing in the shadow of Abdellatif Kechiche’s latest film of a similar idea.
Literally translating as Young and Beautiful – it’s not hard to see why. Played by the impressive model turned actress Marine Vacth, Jeune et Jolie is the story of seventeen year-old Isabelle who rather purposefully finds herself on a path of sexual destruction.
Ozon said: “I was charmed by her beauty and found her mystifying. But beauty is not enough. She has something very intense about her – she has a presence.” And this presence is mirrored in the film.
After losing her virginity to a German boy one summer on vacation, her first time is inevitably underwhelming to say the least.
In a film consisting of the four seasons, we watch the steady defloration of Isabelle, as she mutates from an innocent young girl, into what seems a volatile, misguided woman – becoming a prostitute by the time autumn comes around.
Although this is a rather shallow film concerned almost entirely with Isabelle, ignoring her family and the world around her, Ozon never reveals the real reason for the ignition of her double life – the interpretation is left in the eyes of the viewer.
Never does the director hold back. In some scenes he graphically displays the psychology of sex and society’s reaction to it – but to the volatile Isabelle, it’s just a game.
She seems to become excited and almost turned on by the danger she puts herself in, a trait that is undoubtedly intriguing for the viewer.
Although the film’s 95 minute run-time isn’t overly long, it sometimes seems to drag as we hold on to the end, waiting for the final two seasons of Ozon’s articulate yearlong cycle.
Nevertheless, this film is a perfect portrayal of a young girl’s coming of age. The reception it receives may do it an injustice due to the quality and unfortunately timed release of its competitor – Blue Is the Warmest Colour.