14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Dennis A. Amith (kndy)
- Published on Amazon.com
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" 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!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
"Elles" (2011 release from France; 96 min.) brings two parallel stories. In the first one, we meet Anne (played by Juliette Binoche), a reporter for the renowed French fashion and lifestyle magazine "Elle". Anne is writing an article on escort services provided by young women at university in Paris. The article focues on two such women: there is the timid Charlotte (played by Anais Demoustier), and there is also the more brash Alicja (played by Joanna Kulig), a Polish student who has emigrated to Paris for her studies. The second story line centers around Anne's family: her husband and her two sons. Everyone in the family seems to be in their own little world and Anne feels frustrated and boxed in. The movie plays out over the course of a single day (but with flashbacks) as Anne is trying to finish her article for Elle, and is also preparing for a dinner she and her husband are hosting that evening for his boss.
Several comments: I realize that the movie is titled "Elles" as a wordplay on both the magazine and the two young women we get to know ("Elles" is the French female plural for "they"), but this is doing a disservice to the movie. Why? Because as it turns out the movie pays more attention to, and is far more effective as an analysis of, Anne's crumbling marriage than it does to the economic and emotional circumstances of the two young women. The last third of the movie barely touches on the fate of the young women, and hence my suggested retitling of the movie. That said, the acting performances of the three leading ladies are all noteworthy.
The movie is a co-production between a number of various French and Polish resources. In fact I don't recall having seen so many different "supporting" and "participating" groups in a single movie (maybe as many as 15!). The movie is directed by an up-and-coming Polish director, Malgorzata Szumowska, and I look forward to seeming what she will do next. Bottom line: this movie is MUCH better than some of the negative reviews here might lead you to believe. If you are in the mood for a quality foreign movie that is miles away from your standard Hollywood fare, you will not be disappointed with "Elles".
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Elles is a serious look at a specific aspect of modern day romantic life in the age of the internet and cellphones. Juliette Binoche stars as a writer for Elle magazine researching (she thinks) an article on young college-age women who offer their services to men in order to obtain the money they need to live as something better than a starving student. Binoche's character starts out aloof and almost sneering, with the stereotypical attitude the general public has towards these women, but as she gets to know them better she gets drawn to them and into their world, letting down her journalist's guard. What elevates Elles far above a mere fictionalized documentary movie is when Binoche's character realizes that she is already part of this world. Aside from one scene in which a character gets assaulted (which is most likely a fantasy, although it is not entirely clear), there are no real victims or perpetrators in Elles. It is just what consenting adults do to satisfy their needs and survive the stresses of modern day life.
The centerpiece of Elles by far is Juliette Binoche's character, and she gives a star performance. Her character is not terribly attractive, and her face often shows the stresses of the life she leads as a busy working mom, but that is as it should be. She is most appealing when she lets her hair down by getting tipsy with one of her interview subjects, and that scene is a pure joy. The two college students, played by Anais Demoustier and Joanna Kulig, are near opposites in personality, body type and hair color, but each actress gives an intimately revealing portrayal. The men and boys in Elles have much more minor roles, but are well played. The casting and acting are spot-on, and speak to the care with which Elles was obviously made. If this film ever gets remade as an American film with American actors, I doubt it will be anywhere near as good.
The only thing that prevents me from giving Elles five stars is that it tries to do a bit much in a short amount of time. There are many scenes and many significant events which rush forward to an ultimately satisfying conclusion. I feel the film could have benefited from a slightly more languorous pace, which would have allowed time to more fully explore everything that happens.
Elles is highly recommended for adults who aren't afraid to look behind the facade.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Bored housewife, unappreciated by her husband etc. interviews two student prostitutes, gets intrigued and then turned-on by their seemingly more exciting, more liberated lifestyle. Lots and lots of questioning looks and smiling between the interviewer and interviewees and... that's about it. No real exploration of the realities of these girls' lives, or their clients, a couple of fairly graphic but unerotic scenes and huge amount of well worn cliches. All explored before in the equally insipid, superficial and cliched Belle de Jour. The issues it raises are interesting but, like Belle de Jour, it delivers no answers and the real question is what on earth is Juliette Binoche doing in such a boring and pointless film? A waste of her and your time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
It seems like Ms. Binoche is receiving fewer roles that are of an interesting subject matter. But she still peaks my interest, because I keep hoping she is actually challenged by her movie career field. She's beautiful women that has depth. This role did not fully challenge her, and allow for more exposure of skin. I'm a fan as you can tell, I hope to see her in future films. Foreign movie stars are becoming more, popular once again.