High objective, low bar
Elles takes a significantly more determined run at dismantling stereotypes by way of a middle-aged journalist researching the lives of two young women financing their studies through prostitution.
As the journalist, Juliette Binoche is surprisingly good. Irritable, overworked, well-meaning and understanding, she shows off her liberal-minded best whilst discovering that prostitutes are not just victims.
But in having Binoche’s character write for a middlebrow, middle-class female monthly magazine, Szumowska sets the bar low. Given these parameters, we can’t expect too much in terms of depth, and the movie ends up servicing too many clichés (virile clients, frustrated wives, professionally distant partners) in a half-hearted attempt to strike a compromise between feminism and femininity.
That may be a familiar place for many women. In terms of inspirational artistry, they deserve better.
Elles (Das bessere Leben) | Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska (France 2011), with Juliette Binoche, Joanna Kulig, Anaïs Demoustier. Starts March 29