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  • 3.7
Director Malgorzata Szumowska's ELLES paints an unromantic picture of upper-crust domesticity. ELLES stars the fearless Juliette Binoche (CHOCOLAT) as Anne, a well-off Parisian journalist investigating the lives of two student prostitutes (Joanna Kulig and AnaпїЅs Demoustier) for a magazine article. What begins as a routine assignment shaped by preconceived notions quickly turns personal, as Anne is drawn into the lives of these fiercely independent young women. A bold examination of poverty and privilege, age and youth, ELLES draws into question the loneliness, sterility and isolation that plague marital life.

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"Racy and often sexy, but underneath that simmers an old-school feminist anger." - Alison Willmore, The A.V. Club

5 members like this review

The film was interesting, believable, touching. Juliette Binoche is a beautiful, strong, actress. Her face can tell stories, believable stories. I found myself paying more attention to what the characters were feeling, not what I was seeing. Nudity was respectful, balanced, appropriate. Very good movie. Great casting, good acting.

2e96eff8174b408fe68458c53c86b24b? f 0025
top reviewer

Member Reviews (15)

2e96eff8174b408fe68458c53c86b24b? f 0025
top reviewer

The film was interesting, believable, touching. Juliette Binoche is a beautiful, strong, actress. Her face can tell stories, believable stories. I found myself paying more attention to what the characters were feeling, not what I was seeing. Nudity was respectful, balanced, appropriate. Very good movie. Great casting, good acting.

5 members like this review
top reviewer

Juliette Binoche prompts a good review from me every time I watch her in a movie. What a performance here! A highly competent professional working on a story while life at home bears down upon her, confusing, frustrating, incomprehensible. I'm not sure which plot line made me grit my teeth harder, the danger of meeting unknown men in secret places, or the relationship with the woman who was eventually harmed. The sensuality of her relationship with Binoche led me to ponder whether a line would be crossed, whether she and Binoche would become sexually involved. I was relieved that Ms. Binoche let her erotic side play while keeping perspective in the journalist/subject relationship.

I was saddened when the woman was assaulted by the stranger. Just yesterday I walked away from a report about the rape of women in the Army, appalled at yet another shape of the evil that lurks in our militaristic culture. Is there any difference between what American women are suffering and the suffering when the Japanese Army raped and murdered the women of Nanking during WW II?

Nudity in European movies is always so satisfying. It celebrates the human form and uses the nudity as a piece of the plot, not gratuitous, not demeaning, just life as it goes on. American portrayal of nudity is pornographic; spread 'em wide and let's bury our eyes in it. There's little difference between the violence American's visit upon the rest of the planet and the "violent" portrayal of women in American cinema.

An altogether satisfying film experience. I live in a city where cinema is only whatever schlock the sociopaths in LA are passing out. The opportunity to see a European movie with a better outlook on humanity was gratifying.

2 members like this review
top reviewer

Malgorzata Szumowska's Elles (2011) is a film with high artistic merit.

Something that didn't agree with me as I watched the film were the rather explici sexual scenes between the college girl prostitutes and their clients. I thought these sexually explicit scenes were purely gratuitous and added nothing to the story, and probably detracted from the artistic merit of the film. However, at the very end of the film, the sex scenes suddenly fell into place for me and I was able to understand that they were integral to the story, and did, in fact, complement the whole artistry of the film.

However, the one weak aspect of the film that still doesn't agree with me is Anne's (Juliette Binoche) appearance, that of her hair and her face. For most of the film, except for the dinner party, Anne looked downright haggard. Her hair was just a mess and looked like she stuck it a clothes dryer. Her face not only was lacking make up, it appeared that they did something to her face to make it look even more pale, and even corpse-like. It was not a good look to me, and I have no idea what effect the filmmaker was going for there but it didn't work for me. Anne needn't have been "dolled up", but she didn't need that "fishmonger" look that they gave her either.

The film, through a non-linear, and even fragmented narrative successfully juxtaposed the realities of a woman having to sell her body for financial survival with the woman's role in a standard domestic setting. As Anne alluded to her husband toward the end of the film, the social norms and the morality of our culture put all women in somewhat of a position to sell their sexuality for success in their lives, in one form or another.

The cinematography in this film is rather stunning, and the radical editing was appropriate for the overall dramatic effect of the film.

This film, for me, is one where the viewer best reserve his judgment until the film is finished. After viewing this whole film, it is easier to discern that it is more than simply the sum of its parts.

1 member likes this review

I feel Anne's (Juliette Binoche) appearance was very relevant to the meaning of the film. I felt it represented everything from complacency in a relationship through to the trials and tribulations of a ageing through to a desire to be young again. In the dining scene where she looked at her best you had to ask why. Who was she making the effort for? Herself? Her husband? His boss? At least that's how I saw it.

top reviewer

I thought this film was overrated. It's a story that's been told often, and in this version no major revelation or character break throughs. Two scenes stood out: when one of the "anonymous" men cried. But that moment was killed when the Lola character spoke "It's ok," implying his tears had to do with performance issues, and poor her, what a hero she is for having to "deal" with this. Why can't we have a film about the guy crying because he's in pain - and maybe there's a mind body connection to explore. The 2nd and only other scene of interest to me was Binoche's character being told not to bring up the F word in front of the boss and his wife at dinner. Wow, that's where the story is: the suppression of expression and feminism in marriage.

1 member likes this review

"Why can't we have a film about the guy crying because he's in pain". Good point. I though the acting on the man's part was excellent and said so much more than just performance issues, but that Lola just didn't get it or see it for what it really was, which may well have been either an 'OMG what am I doing?' or possibly a cry for a lost youth. I was leaning more towards the latter. It would definitely have been nice to see it developed further.

Ah, Binoche...

1 member likes this review
0dc6d159bcd566a8dfbaf4a2800a27b1? m 0012
top reviewer

A lovely film --- excellent acting, fine story, very sensitive and absorbing. Juliette Binoche is a delight as always. Do not overthink it as some of t he reviews here have done. It is intended as entertainment and succeeds.

E3b48d2f51a5a6e6e2646ff741bad23a? f 0057
top reviewer

A quality film. Quite strong character development. Such that the viewer becomes riveted on the

subtle shades of feelings of the primary characters. Because it is a work of art, it does not necessarily

comport materially with the world of prostitution, which is quite fraught with the constant danger

of assault. This is a somewhat romanticized take of that world. But the film does show quite skillfully

the underlying dynamic, and power of sexuality to create or destroy lives. Particularly does this seem

most salient in our Western relatively secularized world, where sexuality is so openly expressed.

top reviewer

This artistic study of female sexuality gets bit lost as it moves forward, but once it remembers to return to focus on Juliette Binoche it leaves a sting. The film's focus on lives of the sex workers is limp and without any sort of relevance to the story. The real power of the film is the impact of both the exploitation of these female prostitutes and the problematic way they mix into "Anne's" identity. She seems to feel both pity and jealousy toward these young women and their near-broken lives. Binoche's "Anne" is both repulsed and attracted to the idea of being paid for sex. The girls' stories serve as a sort of disturbing eroticism for her.

As she begins to project their "adventures" on to her upper class married life, in which she has become bored, the film often touches on some amazing moments. It offers no apologies for the main character's confused viewpoint, but it never goes deep enough into "Anne's" psychology to warrant the graphic explicitness. As always, Binoche is pitch-perfect. It is she who makes this odd film worth watching.

I liked the entire film, which is set in modern Paris and spans 24 hours. Good performances from all, with Binoche especially magnetic. It's admirable that she spends almost the entire film wearing little or no make-up and lets her age show.

I do have to quibble with the wildly inaccurate portrayal of relations between the college girl prostitutes and their clients. In real life these moments are not romantic or affectionate, and rarely beautiful.

A story in which little gestures, objects, obligations, secrets and other unspoken elements add up to an investigatory pursuit well hidden. It kept the audience guessing as to where it was going—not unlike real life—and it could have proceeded in several directions. It contained the right amount of mystery and threat balanced against the everyday and expected; superb performances and camera work and, I assume, direction. The best part for me was that it managed to avoid the lurking cliches that often attach themselves to potentially lurid subject-matter; it stayed simple and true. And not to forget to mention that Binoche has become a master of her art/craft. The ending didn't seem to go anywhere or, as they say in film school, land. But except for its final lack of closure or an ending, it was quite good.

Juliette Binoche leads this excellent cast in a slow burn drama that looks at relationships. Yes, it's overt focus is on the modern day concept of students who are paying their way through college by prostitution, but the main thread that runs throughout the whole movie is Binoche's character's relationship with her husband. Yes, it is slow burn (not unusual for a French movie), but at the same time it is very watchable as every character is, in their own individual way, a stereotype, but in such a way that makes them interesting to observe. I liked the penultimate scene very much. If you enjoy a thoughtful drama then well worth watching.

Good start but incoherent second half

liked it.

Great ending, great acting loved the characters... bardzo dobry

anything with Juliette gets a 5 star with me.....interesting perspective on's a little slow in some parts, but the set design is wonderful and the characters are very realistic. She does an awesome job as usual once again showing her diversity as an actress. Watch it!!!!!!