Elles.

Juliette Binoche as the freelance journalist Anne.


Anne is a bourgeois freelance journalist who is writing a piece for Elle magazine on prostitution. Her research includes interviewing two young female students, Charlotte, whose professional name is ‘Lola’ and the Polish √©migr√© Alicja, who both use their bodies as a way to earn money to supplement their education fees. Anne finds herself becoming fascinated by the girl’s lifestyle and how they treat their sex work so matter-of-factly. Anne begins to reassess her own life with its family pressures including her eldest drug taking son Florent and her youngest son Stephane, who would rather play computer games than go to school, coupled with her unexciting sex life with her husband Patrick all of which comes to a ‘head’ the evening of a dinner party with Patrick’s boss and his wife. 

Anais Demoustier as the French prostitute 'Lola'
This frank drama, beautifully photographed by Polish cinematographer Michal Englert, is co-written and directed by Polish director Malgorzata Szumowka, her fourth feature film to date but her first in the French language. The movie star’s Juliette Binoche as Anne, a superb French actress who has appeared in more than 40 feature films including award-winning movies like Three Colour’s Blue (1993), The English Patient (1996) Chocolat (2000) and Certified Copy (2010) The film also features the up and coming young French actress Anais Demoustier as Charlotte with Alicja played by Polish actress Joanna Kulig.

Alicja is played by Joanna Kulig.

The movies carefully researched central narrative concerns female sexuality, a women’s position in modern day society and her freedom of choice. It posses the question does a well-to-do middle class academic have more limits imposed upon her life than a common prostitute?  Prostitution is nothing new although the demands put upon women by a consumer society and our greed economy makes it a far more attractive proposition of earning what is pathetically referred to as ‘easy money’. Some of the more vivid moments in the film like the wine bottle incident and the golden shower scene appear a little to sanitized and don’t really demonstrate the horrors involved in this very dangerous trade. Are there no pimps in France?