As promised, another post in my eternal quest to one-up Zuuko. Now, as long-time readers will know, I review every movie I see in theatres on this blog (translation for non-long time readers: I haven’t been to a theatre in over a year before yesterday). So yesterday I saw this French-Polish movie called Elles about a woman (Juliette Binoche) who interviews two girls (Anaïs Demoustier and Joanna Kulig) who work as hookers to put themselves through school. I want to recommend this movie* to you.
Most of the movie is the tight, almost claustrophobic (despite their bright-greyness) corridors of Binoche’s family’s house. I’m not normally one to notice cinematography, so it must have been a really strongly felt choice. Then there’s close-ups of Binoche’s face, Demoustier’s face, Kulig’s face. The rest is sex. Some of it is really sexy, some of it is kinda gross. Some of it is pretty funny. If you consider it literally, the dialogues in this movie are stupid. This is my usual complaint about movies: “Nobody talks like that.” It’s not that they are particularly more articulate or deep than we are, which is a common movie problem. Instead, it’s that they are to the point. None of them can have a natural conversation. But I really appreciate the lack of heroes and villains, which is also aided by fantastic performances from the whole cast. It’s true that it paints a really surprisingly rosy picture of prostitution. So to say there is no “message” to this movie is putting it much too strong (if I were to summarize this movie’s message in one sentence: “prostitution is (sometimes) cool!”). But the contrast with the overbearing didacticism of “serious Hollywood movies” like Good Will Hunting, Traffic, or whatever, it comes off as a light touch. The best part is that the movie always looks like it’s about to veer into message-movie territory, from the beginning right until the very end. And so every time it doesn’t, it’s an additional small pleasant surprise. And there are two scenes which are just great. One is the scene where, after sex, a naked old man sings Autumn Leaves to his prostitute. The other is the last scene in the movie.
*With one caveat: I guess I’m hopelessly sheltered, but I’ve never seen someone drink piss as part of a sex act before and I’m perfectly happy not to see it in the future, either.
I am normally against trolling, but this is prescriptivist-trolling of the highest calibre. Take that, future Strunk and Whites! Because of future prescriptivists’ lack of sense, these fake rules are sure to be included to usage manuals!