Elles (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 20, 2012 by Dennis Amith
Sensual, natural and entertaining! Overall, “Elles” is a film about life and self-discovery. It’s also a film featuring a magnificent, realistic performance by actress Juliette Binoche. And while it may not be the best film starring Juliette Binoche, it’s definitely one of her best performances seen in a film!
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 99 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 2:35:1, 1080p High Definition, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Kino Lorber
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska
Written by Tine Byrckel, Malgorzata Szumowska
Produced by Marianne Slot
Co-Producer: Daniel Blum, Bettina Brokemper, Reinhold Elschot, Peter Garde, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, Agnieszka Kurzydio, Beata Ryczkowska, Malgorzata Szumowska
Line Producer: Olivier Guerois, Johannes Rexin
Music by Pawel Mykietyn
Cinematography by Michael Englert
Edited by Jacek Drosio, Francoise Tourmen
Casting by Aurelie Guichard
Production Design by Pauline Bourdon
Costume Design by Katarzyna Lewinska
Juliette Binoche as Anne
Anais Demoustier as Charlotte
Joanna Kulig as Alicja
Louis-Do de Lencquesaing as Patrick
Krystyna Janda as LA mere d’Anne
Andrzej Chyra as Le client sadique
Ali Marhyar as Said
Jean-Marie Binoche as Le pere d’Anne
Francoise Civil as Florent
Pablo Beugnet as Stephane
A provocative exploration of female sexuality, Elles stars the fearless Juliette Binoche as Anne, a well-off Parisian journalist investigating the lives of two student prostitutes (Joanna Kulig and Anaïs Demoustier) for a magazine article. What begins as a routine assignment, though, quickly turns personal, as Anne is drawn into the lives of these fiercely independent young women and forced to confront her own sexual fears and desires.
From Polish filmmaker/screenwriter Malgorzata Szumowska (“Stranger”, “Happy Man”) and co-writer Tine Byrckel comes a film about self-reflection in “Elles”.
Starring actress Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”, “Three Colors: Blue”, “Cache”) and young talents Anais Demoustier (“Therese Desqueyroux”, “Last Winter”) and Joanna Kulig (“The Woman in the Fifth”), “Elles” was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.
“Elles” revolves around a French journalist named Anne (portrayed by Juliette Binoche), a married woman with a husband that is always busy with work, a teenage son that barely listens to her and a son, who is more preoccupied with playing video games.
Working on an article for Elle magazine about female student prostitution, Anne interviews two students, Charlotte (portrayed by Anais Demoustier), a young woman enrolled at the “Classe preparatoire”, who has a boyfriend but secretly has sex with men for money. The other is Alicja, an economics student who left Poland to go to France and further her education. Unfortunately, can’t help her out financially, so Alicja also becomes a prostitute.
Both young women only have sex with married men and when Anne tries to pry into their lives a bit more and think they are shameful for what they are doing, she realizes that these women have no problem with what they do. If anything, they are more scared to live a life of being poor. And they are envious of Anne because she is able to live a life successfully, with a beautiful home and a life that they feel they can never achieve because of their low class. So, what they do for a living is not about misery, but a life of a woman making her own decisions, empowered to make their own money and lift them up from a life of nothingness, to a life of earning money, so they wouldn’t have to be poor ever again.
And seeing this life, for Anne, this is a shock. Because even though these women thinks she has it all, she feels her life is not all that great. She cooks, she cleans, her husband is not sexual to her at all and her son also can tell that she is not happy with her life.
So, while Anne needs to interview these two women for her article, perhaps she is drawn to these two young ladies, because they help her rediscover herself of being a woman with needs. And also rediscovering her sexuality which has been repressed.
“Elles” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen). While watching this film, there was something beautiful about the Michael Englert’s cinematography. From scenes showcasing the women outside of their patio and you can see the buildings and scenery around them, for me it was the juxtaposition of beautiful images through Anne’s home. From her cooking food to wearing her silk pajamas, there was this look of beauty that was captured on camera. Almost heavenly to describe the living conditions of Anne, vs. the more grimy nature of her going to some location where graffiti is spraypainted on walls and she can’t bare the thought of using the bathroom in that facility. But as beauty is captured in Anne’s home, there’s also a beautiful capturing of sex scenes that involve Charlotte. They are subtle sex scenes but the way they were filmed was beautiful. Composition was fantastic!
I didn’t detect any problems during my viewing of this film on Blu-ray but overall, a solid presentation.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Elles” is presented in French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with English subtitles. The film is primarily front channel driven, dialogue was crystal clear and the music from the classical music channel also sounds great coming from the front channel. There is good utilization of music from classical music to Swedish electro-pop.
Subtitles are in English.
“elles” comes with the following special feature:
- Edited and Unedited Trailers – Featuring the original theatrical trailer (1:52) and the red band trailer (1:55)
- Stills Gallery – Featuring seven stills from the film.
“Elles” is a fascinating film as it tries to show us another approach to why people take part in prostitution. It is known that there are women putting themselves through college through erotic dancing and sex, but what makes “Elles” so different is that these women are not complaining about the work that they do or the men they have sex with. They are mostly negative about the living conditions that they once came from.
While Anne tries to probe into why the young women do what they do, there is no remorse for having sex with married men. It’s through these men that these young women feel they are in control, it is their freedom to do as they wish and if they want to make money through prostitution, then so be it.
Charlotte and Alicja are just happy to have the money to live the way that they want. And while Anne is surprised by this, she finds herself wanting to be with them, interviewing them but also putting herself in their shoes of how life would be to live like them and be independent, sexually free and just enjoying life like the two young women are. Meanwhile, these two women look at Anne and are envious because she is a person with status and living a life that they want.
Charlotte tries to explain to Anne that she has no problems having sex with men but her past life of living poor is much worse than what she does to make a living. She will never return to that life of being poor and for Charlotte, her questions for Anne is if she has a window in her bathroom. Taking Anne by surprise, she starts to realize that these young women dream of having things that she never really took notice of.
So, it’s this journey of watching how Anne transforms herself from being a woman and journalist under deadline, always stressed out but seeing that these young women living a life of independent freedom, she admires that. While her husband criticizes her to not talk about feminism during a dinner with his clients.
Part of the efficacy of this film lies in the performance of Juliette Binoche. Not only is she able to portray the role of Anne as natural but she is also an actress that can take small nuances and play with it and make us feel comfortable and that her character is natural. One scene features the character of Anne eating with Alicja and Binoche just shows us a woman having fun, trying to chew but always laughing because she is drunk. It’s such a natural way of acting this scene out and goes to show how much of a talented, veteran actress she truly is.
The other part of the film’s efficacy is the cinematography by Michal Englert. The film looks absolutely beautiful because of his composition and on Blu-ray, the film looks great. The scenes of Anne working at home and trying to tidy up to the sexual scenes of the film, the way it’s presented in film looks great!
I may need to warn people that this film does include many sexual scenes. I know that there are people who complained about the use of sex in the film. Personally, I thought it was integral to the film, which was showing how these women have no problem doing requests for these married men. These men are not able to have their wives enact their fantasies, but these two women will make their fantasies come true. I will say that I don’t think I have ever seen a golden shower scene in a film before, so suffice to say, the film really goes out to show how far these two young women will go in their sexual exploits.
But as far as the Blu-ray is concerned, picture quality for the Blu-ray was very good, lossless audio was crystal clear and as for special features, there isn’t really much included with the Blu-ray but trailers and a stills gallery.
Sensual, natural and entertaining! Overall, “Elles” is a film about life and self-discovery. It’s also a film featuring a magnificent, realistic performance by actress Juliette Binoche. And while it may not be the best film to star Juliette Binoche, it’s definitely one of her best performances seen in a film!
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