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Elles (English Subtitled) 2012

NC-17
3.0 out of 5 stars (36) IMDb 5.7/10

A provocative and raw exploration of female sexuality from France, ELLES paints an unromantic picture of upper-crust domesticity refracted through the vibrant eroticism of prostitution. Juliette Binoche stars as a well-off Parisian journalist investigates the lives of two student prostitutes for a magazine article.

Starring:
Juliette Binoche, Anaïs Demoustier
Runtime:
1 hour, 39 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 1, 2013
Format: DVD
"Elles" (2011 release from France; 96 min.) brings two parallel stories. In the first one, we meet Anne (played by Juliette Binoche), a reporter for the renowed French fashion and lifestyle magazine "Elle". Anne is writing an article on escort services provided by young women at university in Paris. The article focues on two such women: there is the timid Charlotte (played by Anais Demoustier), and there is also the more brash Alicja (played by Joanna Kulig), a Polish student who has emigrated to Paris for her studies. The second story line centers around Anne's family: her husband and her two sons. Everyone in the family seems to be in their own little world and Anne feels frustrated and boxed in. The movie plays out over the course of a single day (but with flashbacks) as Anne is trying to finish her article for Elle, and is also preparing for a dinner she and her husband are hosting that evening for his boss.

Several comments: I realize that the movie is titled "Elles" as a wordplay on both the magazine and the two young women we get to know ("Elles" is the French female plural for "they"), but this is doing a disservice to the movie. Why? Because as it turns out the movie pays more attention to, and is far more effective as an analysis of, Anne's crumbling marriage than it does to the economic and emotional circumstances of the two young women. The last third of the movie barely touches on the fate of the young women, and hence my suggested retitling of the movie. That said, the acting performances of the three leading ladies are all noteworthy.

The movie is a co-production between a number of various French and Polish resources. In fact I don't recall having seen so many different "supporting" and "participating" groups in a single movie (maybe as many as 15!).
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Elles is a serious look at a specific aspect of modern day romantic life in the age of the internet and cellphones. Juliette Binoche stars as a writer for Elle magazine researching (she thinks) an article on young college-age women who offer their services to men in order to obtain the money they need to live as something better than a starving student. Binoche's character starts out aloof and almost sneering, with the stereotypical attitude the general public has towards these women, but as she gets to know them better she gets drawn to them and into their world, letting down her journalist's guard. What elevates Elles far above a mere fictionalized documentary movie is when Binoche's character realizes that she is already part of this world. Aside from one scene in which a character gets assaulted (which is most likely a fantasy, although it is not entirely clear), there are no real victims or perpetrators in Elles. It is just what consenting adults do to satisfy their needs and survive the stresses of modern day life.

The centerpiece of Elles by far is Juliette Binoche's character, and she gives a star performance. Her character is not terribly attractive, and her face often shows the stresses of the life she leads as a busy working mom, but that is as it should be. She is most appealing when she lets her hair down by getting tipsy with one of her interview subjects, and that scene is a pure joy. The two college students, played by Anais Demoustier and Joanna Kulig, are near opposites in personality, body type and hair color, but each actress gives an intimately revealing portrayal. The men and boys in Elles have much more minor roles, but are well played. The casting and acting are spot-on, and speak to the care with which Elles was obviously made.
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Format: Blu-ray
When you think about prostitution, what usually comes to mind are the ladies in the street or the so-called bordellos (for rich and poor). But, in the changing world, prostitution keeps evolving due to many reasons, one being our current economies. Not everybody is competitive, and, sadly, some go into this profession as an act of desperation, curiosity, or other reasons. "Elles" is a fascinating and gripping film that explores these issues in a dramatic and intriguing way.

Anne (Juliette Binoche) is apparently a happily-married journalist, who is writing an article about Paris' students for Elle magazine. She struggles doing chores at home, including raising a teenage son and a smaller daughter, and doing research for her book. This research involves spending time and interviewing two young college students (Joanna Kulig and Anaïs Demoustier), who, for different reasons, moonlight as prostitutes. The descriptions of their sexual duties are very graphic, and it involves several types of men - mostly married --, who have the most bizarre requests. This assignment slowly affects Anne's psyche and personal life, forcing her to make some serious decisions.

Directed by Malgoska Szumowska, "Elles" is another movie that shows us aspects of our daily life that people are not aware of or simply ignore. Student prostitution is a sign of the times, not only in France, but in other places, including the USA. The film, as I say, is kind of graphic in the frank depiction of sex and sexual preferences, including a good dose of nudity. The Blu-ray includes edited and unedited trailers and more. (France, Poland, Germany; 2011, color, 99 min plus additional material)

Reviewed on March 12, 2013 by Eric Gonzalez for Kino Lorber Blu-ray
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