WM Adult: Summer of Sin comes to an end tonight with Elles – a raunchy French film full of substance far beyond the beautiful women the story is focused on. This Australian Premiere produces everything one would expect in the canon of French film. It’s raw, honest, and at times heartbreaking.
Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche (of Chocolat and The English Patient fame) stars as Anne – a magazine journalist currently writing an article about two student sex workers. As the film unfolds, it becomes evident that Polish director Malgoska Szumowska has done her research. Szumowska interviewed a number of Polish and French sex workers before co-writing the script with journalist/psychoanalyst Tine Byrckel , ensuring the story remains genuine and honest.
A number of particularly saucy scenes are bound to capture audience attention, however what I loved about Elles was Szumowska’s ability to move the story far beyond mere sensuality. Through the experiences of each of the characters, she manages to depict the disparity of social status in France, while also highlighting a number of universal pressures experienced by women.
After spending time with the brash and proud sex workers, Anne begins to question her satisfaction and happiness within her own nuclear family. On the other hand, the young girls both deeply believe they will never be able to achieve the affluent lifestyle Anne experiences. The relationships between the three women are captivating and brutally authentic, often resulting in honest and refreshing conversations concerning typically taboo topics.
Ultimately, at the core of Elles lies the idea that beauty lies in life’s simplest pleasures.