The ever lovely Juliette Binoche stars in this strange twist on the usual midlife crisis film. Writing for ELLE magazine in Paris, Binoche’s character is writing an article about young prostitutes. Drawn to two of her subjects – one a striking Polish girl, the other from one of Paris’ outlying housing estates, she quickly finds in their own stories of shifting moralities and sacrifices in one area of their lives for benefit in others to be strongly resonant with her own, Bourgeois state of affairs.
The point that her housewife life is itself a form of prostitution gets hammered a little too explicitly – while the flashbacks from the prostitutes convey fairly rich subtext, the central narrative seems a bit forced and obvious. When dinner parties are used as a disruptive weapon in a marriage, there’s a fine line between a political act of personal rebelion and mere petulence.
ELLES may not completely success in being either revelatory or consistent, but it’s a fairly original take on this type of self reflection (and self loathing), and the ensemble does well to provide often rich, emotional insights into their character’s complex lives. It’s manages to be erotic without being ribald, tragicomic without completely devolving into farce. An interesting, mildly enticing take on whoring in its various forms, ELLES is a curious, engaging little film.