ELLES Send This Review to a Friend
Esteemed actress Juliette Binoche undertakes a bold role as Anne, a bored wife and mother with a blah marriage who is writing an article about prostitutes. This entails interviewing women of the profession, and Anne goes about it by answering hooker ads, then telling her subjects what she is there for and even offering to pay for their time.
One is Charlotte (Anaïs Demoustier), another is Alicja (Joanna Kulig), who candidly describe their work. There are scenes to illustrate what they are telling her, and some of them are very explicit. Binoche’s face registers emotions such as surprise and disbelief at the casualness with which they accept what is demanded of them.
Anne becomes so drawn into the work of her subjects that she gets to be turned-on, as evidenced by a brave scene in which she masturbates at home. This is not a picture in which she would take to prostitution to see what it is like for herself. But she is definitely stimulated by all the talk of sex and its permutations, especially in contrast with her domestic life. Anne is fed up with her son’s casual attitude toward study and her husband’s insistence on her having a dinner party for his boss, a party that makes her want to flee.
Her routine life differs sharply from hearing a story about a wine bottle forced in the rear of a prostitute, or a story of water sports. Binoche is excellent at showing various sides of Anne’s character in this intimate film directed by Malgoska Szumowska, who wrote the screenplay with Tine Byrckel.
There is also understanding about what motivates the women in question. Entertainment-wise, the film might benefit from a more dynamic quality, but on the other hand its very matter-of-fact method of telling is what provides the integrity that earns “Elles” respect as a film that deals with sensational matter without succumbing to sensationalism. A Kino Lorber release.