François Ozon’s erotically charged drama “Young & Beautiful” is as gorgeously sexy and as emotionally distant as its main character.
She’s Isabelle (Marine Vacth), a 17-year-old schoolgirl who eagerly loses her virginity to a German surfer (Lucas Prisor) during a family beach vacation. Unsatisfied by her first sexual encounter, she seeks out more by hiring herself out as a high-priced prostitute, servicing older businessmen in ritzy hotels. When one of her regulars, Georges (Johan Leysen), dies during intercourse, the police become involved and Isabelle’s double life is exposed.
Ozon (“Swimming Pool,” “Potiche”), who wrote and directed, presents Isabelle as a blank (and often naked) canvas on which others — her clients, her protective mother (Géraldine Pailhas) and her easygoing stepfather (Frédéric Pierrot) — project their own insecurities and sexual imagery. Alas, neither he nor Vacth’s performance leaves much space to grasp her view of her burgeoning sensual nature.
‘Young & Beautiful’
Opens today at the Tower Theatre; not rated, but probably NC-17 for some explicit sexuality; in French with subtitles; 93 minutes.